Monday, July 19, 2010

Celestial Missionaries!

This letter was sent 7/19/2010

Okay, the spacebar on this computer does not really work, so beware. If you are way confused about a word, imagine a space in a convenientlocation andit was probably what I was going for.
This week was another crazy week. I thinkI said last weekthat HQ had to go to Antofagastato renew her visa. She left Tuesday afternoon,and came back Wednesday night, which meant we lost two full days of working, because Tuesday morning we have district meeting. I worked with the other Hermanas in the zone, and it was interesting to see how they work,to get new ideas,but mostly what I learned is that I´m happy with the work we do and I´mglad HQ trained me the way I am (the other Hermanas are a little... slow). Monday night we came home early because I didn´t have a voice, I was coughing like a crazy woman, and everyone thought the cold air was going to killme. By Saturday morning I hadn´t stopped coughing andit was getting stronger,so we wenttothe clinic and found out I have bronchitis. But luckily now I have antibiotics, an inhalator, and I´m gettingbetter. So don´t worry.
Thursday afternoon we had a missionary activity for the stake youth conference they had this week. A few missionaries, including me, talked about why we decided to come onthe mission, and then we taught the youth how to make contacts and went out and worked. Someof the groups had a lot of success, but the girl I was with didn´t have a testimony,which I found out in the first contact where we actually talkedto someone. So we spent allour time walking around talking about that instead of contactingpeople. But I thinkI helpedher out in the end, so it was worth it.
Friday morning we had interviews with our new President! Him and his wife were also at the missionary activity on Thurdsay but we only talkedto themfor a few minutes there. They are ADORABLE. Hermana Bruce doesn´t really speak Spanish at all, but she´s so cute and everyone just lovesher. President Bruce is awesome! He servedin Puerto Rico but like a millionyears agoand he says he´s having a hard time remembering Spanish but really,hespeaks well. Everyone can understandhim and everything, so it´s good. We had a little meeting about our new "vision" that we have, which is being Celestial Missionaries. I´ll explain that in a second, but after we talked about our new goals, we had interviews, and then everyone left. But the interviews were in our chapel, so we were waiting until everyone left so we could lock up. President and Sister Bruce and the assistants were gettinginto their car, and we were waitingwith the ZoneLeaders, and they pulled up next to us and Sister Bruce started asking about a few restaurants that shehad looked up on the internet, where they were. We were explaining one, named Wagon, which is basically next to our house, and President was like "hey, just get in" and we were like "umm, all of us?" and they said yes. So, HQ got in the front with Sister Bruce, and I squeezed in the back with the assistants and the zone leaders. Elder Skene, one of the assistants,was more orless sittingonmy lap,but don´t worry about it. We directedthem to Wagon,which is a really nice restaurant, and then we thought we were just going to eat in our house and thengo out to work, but President was like, "No, you´re all coming to eat with me!" So we ate the most delicious lunch in the world, I´mserious. It was soooo good. Nothing like any of the other ridiculous food I´ve eaten in Chile. Mmm. Plus,we got tospend more time with President and Sister Bruce, who are so soso awesome. They like to speak English, so it was kindof weird goingbackand forth between speaking English to Sister Bruce, a mixture to President and the assistants,and only Spanish to HQ and the Zone Leaders. But it was very very great and we were really really blessed.
Okay, so last week we got a letter from President Bruce about how we can develop Christ-like attributes and skills from PMG to be more Celestial,and we have levels that correspond to the number of contacts,new investigators, lessons with members, and total lessons that we do each week. To be a celestial missionary, we have to do 120 contacts, teach 20 lessons, and at least 8 of them with a member, and find 10 new investigators. There is also the City of Enoch level, which is 140 contacts, 30 lessons, 12 with a member, and 15 new investigators (By the way, McKay, Kevin, Brian, etc., I want to know how these numbers relate to your averages on your missions. I´ve been really curious about that!). This last week we were super happy to reach level 3 (right before Celestial) because we worked such few days, but this week we´re aiming for Celestial, and next week City of Enoch. It´s super cool to work with these goals, because they transfer into daily goals, and we just work with faith andprayer to accomplish them. Yesterday we needed to find 3 new investigators and have 3 lessons with members to accomplish level 3, and we just prayed and prayed for those specific numbers. At the beginning of church we didn´t have hope for lessons with members, because all our regulars couldn´t work with us, but we asked a girl named Yesica to come out with us for an hour and she said yes. We went to an appt we had, and it was sweet! The investigator, Liliana, was super interested and accepted all the commitments and everything. Yesica was so excited that she decided to keep working with us. We went to a reference that someone had given me that day, and the girl whose name we had didn´t live there, but a guy from Bolivia answered the door, consented to listen to us for "two minutes" (what we always say to get people to listen), and was SO interested, it blew us away. We said we would like to come back to visit the next week and he said "No, the pleasure would be mine. Really,this is exactly what I´mlooking for rightnow." It was great! So,one new investigator. Then we picked up Jorge, our last convert, to go to an appt. That girl wasn´t there, so we went to some reference we had, asked for 2 minutes, and went into his house. The guy said he´s been researching religions for his whole life, looking for the right one, but has never found it. He hadn´t heard anything about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, but understood exactly what we were teaching. And Jorge was so awesome, before we could even extend any invitations he was like "Our invitiation to you is to investigate this church. Read the Book of Mormon! Pray to God! I received my testimony by..... and I knowthat you can feel this way..." etc. He would be an amazing missionary, seriously. So, another new investigator. We had an appt at 7:30 with the Donoso family to teach their son, and it was about 7:30, but we needed another new investigator and knew the Donosofamily could wait. So we asked Jorge what he thought we should do. "Well, let´s go visit some of my friends." We went to one house, and she wasn´t home, so we wenttoanother house, and his friend´s son answeredthe door. His mom was busy for a little while, but HQ invited him tolisten to our message too, so we entered, taught, andhe was our new investigator too! That makes 4 lessons with members,and 3 new investigators. We brought Jorge to the Donoso family´s houseto say hello,and they invitedhim in to eat "once" (what they call dinner here,but they only eat bread with avocado,and Ecco,which is like coffee but not actually coffee), which was great because he is really strugglingwith money and can only affordto eat lunch every day. We had a good lesson with their son, Coque, and tried to set a baptismal date, but he´s really rebellious, just to be contrary, and we don´t know why. So, we still don´t have any baptismal dates, but we´re praying for the gift of discernment to know what his problemreally is,because he knows he has to get baptized, and his parents really want it to be soon so they can get sealed as a family.
Anyway, that was my week! A lot to write about. I hope it didn´t bore you guys. But I´m really loving being here and really excited to work with these goals that we have. I´ll keep you posted, of course.
Thanks for your letters, I love you, I pray for you all always, and I´ll write again next week of course!

Love

This letter was sent 7/12/2010

I have really no clue what to say today. Our numbers for the week were a little low-- there´s a Catholic festival called La Tirana somewhere "arriba" from here and everyone that believes in God is there apparently. Unfortunately, what I said last week about us having lots of good people that we´re teaching is no longer true. We had to drop some investigators, others we haven´t been able to find (welcome to the mission, right?), and we have been knocking doors like crazy with reeeally bad results. The actual festival of La Tirana is this weekend, but people flock there by the thousands apparently the whole week. Jorge, our convert from July 3, is so converted to the gospel, it´s sweet. He ate lunch with us in the restaurant on Saturday (the same people that cook for us during the week invite us to their restaurant every Saturday to eat lunch, and we found Jorge because he was working there with them) and we were complaining about La Tirana and he asked if he was allowed to work with us and take us to the houses of all his friends to teach them! He´s super great. Also, HQ has to travel to Antofagasta to renew her visa and she´s leaving tomorrow after lunch and coming back Wednesday night. And President Bruce is touring the mission this week to meet all of us, so I´m not really sure when we´re going to work.
I just realized that this is probably the most boring email you´ve ever gotten from me. Sorry.
Today we played soccer against the zone that lives in Hospicio, which is the city on top of the mountain next to Iquique. We rented a soccer field with turf (all the churches here have soccer courts, like basketball courts, but it´s just cement) and it was huge. I played for about five minutes until I realized that I was incredibly horrible and incredibly nervous and was not going to be a good contribution to the game, at which point I sat on the side and cheered with an Elder who also doesn´t like to play and some random members from another ward who came to cheer.
Remember the Donoso family? I don´t know if I´ve told you before, but they have a 14 year old son who didn´t get baptized with them who has been really uninterested in the church. But we taught him last night and he´s wayyyyyyy more interested. The lesson was sweet. Janett (the mom)´s sister was there too (they call her Lola!) and she is also really interested. This family is kind of crazy. They´re still learning how to live the gospel and everything, but they are really good in some aspects, like prayer (I believe I´ve mentioned that before) and missionary work. They give us references of every single person they know who´s not a member, and usually they´re trained up well, because they always talk about the gospel in their house. Hermano Donoso is the Elder´s Quorum President, so he comes to our missionary correlation meetings, and this past Tuesday he brought his wife, who recently received a calling as Secretary of the YW, and her sister Lola. It was.... weird to have a nonmember in our meeting, but it´s not like we do anything that they shouldn´t know about. Anyway, we´ll see what happens there, but they´re about our only hope right now.
Well, I´m still freezing here. Apparently August is the worst month, so it´s only going to get colder. I´ll keep you posted on that. I love you, I miss you, and thanks for your emails! Brothers: write me. That is all.
Have a good week!
This letter was sent 7/5/2010

First of all, we survived transfers once again and HQ and I are going to be together another transfer. Us and the zone leaders are the only companionships that weren´t changed in our zone of 14 missionaries, so it´s going to be really different this transfer. My gringos are leaving! Hermana Montandon, who came with me, is going to Antofagasta, and her companion too, because they´re closing their area for Hermanas and Elders are coming. But we´re getting 3 other gringo Elders. We´ll see how that goes.

Yesterday, being the 4th of July, I woke up singing The Star Spangled Banner. We now have a new mission president, named President Bruce, from California. HQ and I decided to call him and sing the national anthem. Luckily it´s in my English hymnbook so HQ could read the words. It went pretty badly, because it´s really high and she´s really bad at singing in English, and it was 7:30 in the morning. But he appreciated the thought. Also, he only wanted to talk to me in English because he said it´s been really hard to remember Spanish after all this time (he served his mission in Puerto Rico, but a long time ago obviously). We´ll see how that goes too. My district leader and my zone leader as well called first thing in the morning to wish me a happy 4th of July.

As for the hamburgers, they ended up not making them, so it was a 4th of July without celebrations, except for HQ and I both dressed in red, white and blue for church. Those are also the colors of the Chilean flag, so I´m not sure if anyone noticed. But we were excited. I´m attaching a photo.

Saturday we had the baptism of Jorge (that is a translation of a sentence in Spanish, sorry)! It was good. I´m not sure how much I´ve told you about him, but he has been a super great investigator and we´re really happy that he´s finally baptized. He was a little sad, because he´s from Paraguay and his kids still live there and they´re little and they don´t understand why he´s not with his wife (they´re separated) and they couldn´t be at the baptism and he feels a little lonely I think. But he was happier on Sunday when he was confirmed, and hopefully with the support of the ward he´ll feel better soon.

HQ and I sang at the baptism! Just us two! I´m sure you´re all shocked, considering my intense hatred for singing in front of people ever since that one horrible recital when I was like 11, but I do things as a missionary that I thought I would never ever do, and that was one of them. We sang that one Primary song about baptism, with parts in Spanish and parts in English, and I´m not going to say the singing was wonderful, but overall it turned out pretty well.

I don´t know what else to write about in general. We have good people that we´re working with right now, but we don´t have any baptismal dates and no one came to church yesterday. That is by far the biggest challenge we have. But we´re going to work as hard as we can and do everything we can to get these people to church and surely we are going to baptize this transfer.

I can´t remember if I wrote about Jessica, the girl that took care of Silvia, but we went to visit her this week and she was soooo happy to see us and said that our visit brought her a lot of happiness that she´s been missing. Saturday we had an appt with her and we went to her house and she wasn´t there so we called and she said she had slept at the Donoso´s house so we went there to teach her. Her and Jannett, Silvia´s daughter, are best friends now. We had a short lesson but she said that she wants to get baptized! And she came to Jorge´s baptism on Saturday night. Unfortunately, she didn´t come to church yesterday and we don´t know why. But we´ll get on that.

Anyway, I´m here for at least 6 more weeks, and we´ll see what happens after that, because HQ only has one more transfer after this one. Iquique is getting pretty cold, but apparently it´s colder in Antofagasta and MUCH colder in Copiapo, so I´m grateful.

I love you all! Thanks for the letters, I hope you´re doing well. I´m praying for you always.
Hermana Coppins

P.S. The subject line is something someone said in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. What the heck??

Chile is still viva

This letter was sent 6/28/2010

First off, although it´s exciting that Chile is progressing in the World Cup and all, it is SO HORRIBLE to be here after a game. I don´t know if any of you will remember or were there, but after BYU beat Oklahoma back in September, Provo was RIDICULOUS. The streets were lined with cars honking and everyone was running around and screaming and it was impossible to do anything but party. Welcome to Iquique (especially in the center) after every game. I couldn´t believe the amount of celebrating after Chile LOST last Friday. I´m kind of secretly hoping that it ends here with the game against Brazil today, because at least we can work. But we´ll see what happens.

This week was ridiculously busy and thinking back on it, it seems like about three months instead of seven days. Hermana Quiroz was really sick at the beginning of the week. We had ward conference, with activities every day. We attended Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, and Saturday morning. We watched both of the Chile games in the World Cup, we had interviews with the president, we had a baptism on Saturday morning, and we still found 6 new investigators and taught 12 lessons, which is an honorable week of work. We´re heading into the last week of the transfer with a baptism on Saturday and hoping to work really hard and set baptismal dates, find new investigators, etc.

Most importantly, we accomplished the 5 baptisms!! It was really exciting, and only one other companionship in our zone did. Only two zones of the ten in the mission baptized 5 people per companionship, but we had 260 baptisms in 3 months, which really is good for the previous records of our mission and this area.

Allison and Felipe were super happy, and yesterday we had ward conference, so the stake presidency was there and spoke in Sacrament Meeting and in the third hour meeting, and they kept referring to Allison and Felipe during all the talk and everything. I´m sure it was embarrassing for them, but I´m super happy that the ward is receiving them with open arms and I know they´re going to be really great converts.

[Editor's note: I decided to leave this section in because it demonstrates tough choices we have to make and the resulting consequences.] I have an embarrassing story and I don´t know if it should be made known to the world, so maybe Dad should edit this before putting it on the blog (you are posting my emails on my blog, right?). Every Sunday we eat lunch with members. Yesterday it was the Martins family. They´re from Brazil but lived in Japan for the last 18 years and moved to Chile about 8 months ago, for business related things. They don´t speak super great Spanish, and what they do speak, is with a HEAVY Portuguese (Brazilian?) accent. Sometimes we can understand them, sometimes no. But they have a car, so after church we get in the car with them, presumably to go to their house to eat. They´re all chattering away in Japanese or Portuguese or something (apparently those languages are really similar?) and all of a sudden they´re like "Can the missionaries eat in a restaurant on Sunday?" and HQ is like "No!" and they´re like "Umm... our oven.... yesterday we had to cook for 80 people... we didn´t make anything.... (a whole bunch more).... so we´re going to a restaurant. Can you?" and we have NOOOOO idea what to do, we just don´t say anything, and HQ gives me this look like "save me" but I have absolutely no idea how, and so they just keep driving and driving and driving, a million miles (it seemed) out of our sector, and we ended up at a Chinese food restaurant. We tried to hide our nametags the best we could and had the most uncomfortable lunch ever.
After lunch, when we left to work at 3:30 like we always do, we stopped by the house of Anyela, a girl in our ward who is studying medicine and always works with us on Sunday. We asked who we ate lunch with and we were super embarrassed but we told her and she was like "Okay I totally understand, what else could you have done?" and we just said we had no idea. Later when we came back to drop her off, her mom (it´s the family of the ward mission leader, by the way) was like "I made picarones, do you want some? Or would you rather we went to a restaurant to eat?" and we were really embarrassed and she was kind of angry that we said we didn´t know what else we could do. "Don´t tell me that you didn´t know what to do! If someone tempts you with something, are you going to say that you didn´t know how to say no?" Ugh. Maybe right now I can think of things I could have said, but seriously, in the moment, there was no other option. It wasn´t that we were really hungry and didn´t want to miss out on the chance for food! But we really didn´t want to hurt their feelings. Ugh, I don´t know. The only thing we can do is hope that it doesn´t turn into a huge rumor in the ward.

Anyway, that´s all I have for today. Next week I´ll know about transfers! Woo hoo! Love you guys.
Hermana Coppins

The first day of winter!

This letter was sent 6/21/2010

The bad news section: Silvia died yesterday. She was in severe pain Saturday afternoon so they took her to the hospital and apparently they didn´t take care of her very well. She had to wait from 5 pm until 11 pm to be seen, and they left the window open in her room without lots of blankets, and she´s REALLY REALLY thin from the first time she went to the hospital and they didn´t feed her, so she just couldn´t take the mistreatment and died at 5 am yesterday morning. The family is sad, but her daughter Janett and her husband are members, so they understand the plan of salvation and are super happy that at least she got baptized. Now we know she´s happily in the spirit world, enjoying paradise.

Her husband died 20 something years ago, and Janett´s husband Jorge (Hermano Donoso) went to the temple and was baptized for him, so they´re together. :) But Jessica, the girl who was taking care of Silvia, isn´t a member, and we were teaching her but she didn´t want to change her Catholic beliefs so we dropped her a week or two ago. But we talked to her last night and she wants to receive us again. Hopefully she can find comfort in the Plan of Salvation too. The viewing was at her house last night so we went with a bunch of ward members and sang some hymns and the bishop said a prayer. She has six kids and only the one is a member so they didn´t want to have a funeral like we normally do, and she´s being buried with a cross (?), but it was good to be there.

The great news section: We had so many miracles this week! Thursday we had an appt with Allison and Felipe and we were talking to Felipe about his testimony/answer about the church, etc., and he said that he hadn´t received an answer, because he hadn´t really been praying. He wanted to get baptized anyway but we told him he has to believe that this is the true church, he can´t just get baptized because he wants to. So we told him to pray that night and really seek an answer. We went back Friday to do the pre-interview with him and Allison (so we could announce their baptism yesterday in Sacrament Meeting) and when we got there Allison wasn´t home yet but her mom was like oh, Felipe´s here, and he wanted to talk to you. We were kind of nervous about whether it would be good or bad, but he came downstairs and we asked him if he´d prayed, and he said he went into the back of his house to be alone and knelt down and prayed to ask if this was the true church and he felt a warmth in his chest and he felt really good. And we were super happy and were like Felipe, that´s an answer from God! and we shared a bunch of scriptures and he seemed really happy too. Then Allison came home and we were about to start going over the questions and Felipe was like "Oh I have something to say. I´m not going to get baptized, I don´t think I´m prepared" and we were like WHAAAAAT and HQ just started talking and talking and saying that we´re never going to be perfect, but we will grow in the gospel, and it´ll be easier because we´ll have the gift of the Holy Ghost, and he had received an answer and that was important, and he was like "Okay I want to get baptized but my mom and Allison said I wasn´t sure so I shouldn´t!" and Allison was like "You weren´t sure!!!" and he was like "But now I got an answer!" and their mom was like "Fine then, get baptized with Allison" and he was really happy. And they came to church yesterday, so we´re all set for this Saturday. We´re going to accomplish the goal! Woohoo!

Another miracle is Jorge. He´s been a miracle since the second we started teaching him, but Saturday he shared with us an awesome experience. He´s been reading the Gospel Principles book and finished it Friday, and knelt down Friday night to pray to God and to ask forgiveness for his sins. He said he was praying in his room in darkness but all of a sudden it was like a light came on, but not in the room, in his mind. And he knew exactly what God wanted from him and not in a general way, but in a very specific way. We shared with him Alma 32:28 and he was soooo sooo happy. He said before he wanted to get baptized, but now he´s completely anxious to get baptized, he can´t wait. He wants to do everything right, and every single thing we teach him is a breeze. He has lots of questions but just to clarify how he can best serve God. It´s really cool because he recognizes us as servants of God and trusts the things we say as the word of God. Ah, he´s so great. So he´s getting baptized July 3rd.

Also in the way of miracles, Chile won their first game on Wednesday and again today! This city is CRAZY when they win. Everyone is just driving around honking and screaming CHI CHI CHI LE LE LE VIVA CHILE over and over again.

Well, that´s about all I have to say this week. We´ve got two more weeks of this transfer and they´re going to be super busy. Also, HQ is sick so we´ve been a bit behind on working, but we´re hoping that everything will go smoothly this week with the ward conference and all. Thanks for your support and your prayers, and thanks to Tagg, McKay, Ashely and Aunt Melissa for the emails! I didn´t hear from anyone else but that´s probably because it´s earlier than normal. I hope you´re having a good week and I pray for you always!