Wednesday, August 18, 2010

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Letter received 8/16/2010

OKAY. transfer day. i´ve been super nervous all week because we knew that one of us was going to leave (a missionary can´t be with her trainer more than 3 transfers, right? plus last week the assistants said something to us about our numbers and that we should know that president knew of our numbers and knew that we were among the best sister missionaries so they had to separate us) and last night i hardly slept at all. i LOVE iquique, i love my zone here, the ward, the investigators, the work, everything. neither hq nor i wanted to leave, so we were both suuuuuper nervous for the call. we woke up at 7, pattered around the house waiting, and freaked out when elder radhe called. he said we both had to listen, so we were all crowded with the phone between us, and he said "hermana coppins, you´re going to......." and then started to die laughing. "ya po! diganos donde!" translation: "alright already, tell us where!" he kept laughing for so long while we were dying, until he finally said,
"Hermana Coppins, you´re going to CALDERA, as senior companion, with Hermana Arriaga, who has three transfers in the mission, and you´re leaving TONIGHT at 10:20 pm."
oooooookay. caldera is 13 hours from iquique. hermana arriaga is from peru and came to the mission the same day as me (but since she´s latina she started the mtc a transfer after me). and leaving at 10 pm the day they announce transfers is a LITTLE cruel. buuuuuut that´s life, right? luckily i´m SUPER fast at packing so i packed up my suitcases in like 20 minutes and got ready to go to our zone activity (we just went to the beach to say goodbye and write in our libros de recuerdos [book of remembrance? don´t know how to say that in english] and take pictures), because we´re going to get home right about 6 tonight and have to leave altiro (right away) to say goodbye to members and converts and then be back home at 9 to get ready to leave for turbus. the same bus that killed me my first night in the mission. life is really crazy. but i´m kind of excited for a new adventure! the zone where i´ll be, copiapo north, is really suffering in numbers, and i feel like i´ve really really learned a lot that can help raise the zone. i don´t know if i´ve learned so much that it´s wise to make me senior companion, but the problem is that our zone leaders love us (hq and me) tooooo much and they told the assistants and president bruce that they had to make me senior companion. so next week i´ll have more information on that! apparently caldera is a tourist location and it´s pretty dead in the winter, but it´s a really pretty beach and it´s close to copiapo, where there are TREES! so that´ll be great. i´ll send pictures.
the other bad news is that we didn´t reach the celestial level this week. we needed 2 more new investigators and i promise, we did everything possible and impossible (divisions, visited the people we had on our future investigator list, knocked doors, contacted in the street, etc) but we just couldn´t find two more people who accepted return visits. but we worked a lot more with the investigators we already had this week instead of only looking for new ones, and now we have two baptismal dates and good people. i´m sure you former missionaries know that leaving an area with baptismal dates is a much better feeling than leaving an area completely dead. lynch, our area here in iquique, is super great and i know hq and her new companion will have all sorts of success.
i don´t know what else to say about this past week. being on the mission is a miracle every day and it´s really, really changing my life. we talked to a lot of people with a lot of problems this week, ranging from drug addictions to cheating spouses to complete poverty, and even though it´s REALLY sad to know that there are so many people suffering in the world, i´m super grateful that i´ve been so blessed in my life and i know it´s because of the gospel. obviously we can´t control the actions of other people, but when we are faithful to the commandments, our covenants, and when we seek and listen to the spirit, we´ll never have problems that we can´t handle. the gospel is the GREATEST blessing we can have in our lives, and the outside world is a little rough. i advise that you never go there. stick to what you´ve learned and it will ALWAYS be a blessing.
that´s all for now! i love you and i´ll write more next week from CALDERA!

no subject

Letter received 8/9/2010

We were celestial missionaries again, and the zone was celestial. Actually, we were only 2 new investigators away from being in the City of Enoch, but on Saturday one of the assistants talked to our ZLs and said some mean things about how if we have good numbers but don´t have baptisms it doesn´t matter, and pointed out that a zone in Arica had 9 baptisms last week but were only in Level 2. So we gave up trying to reach City of Enoch and are a little confused about the vision of President Bruce, but we are looking for baptisms this week. Really, we challenged 3 people this week, and 1 accepted and we´re waiting for responses from 2 more, so it´s not like we´re not looking for baptisms, but really, the numbers don´t prove much. We´ll see what happens this week, because we now have approximately 40-something new investigators that we´ve found and don´t know what to do with. Turns out the mission is a little hard.
This computer sucks, it´s REALLY late and even though it was P-day libre (free) we haven´t had time to do a single thing because we spent approximately a million hours making pupusas, and I´m kind of in a bad mood from that, so I don´t really feel like writing much. Sorry.
Carlos blessed the Sacrament yesterday, it was great. He looked so good with a tie!
HQ and I are never not having a dance party to the Jericho Road songs on the EFY CDs that you sent, so that´s been boosting our enthusiasm.
Last night we knocked on the door of a future investigator named Domingo, and no one answered the door but a guy next to the door opened the window and asked who we were looking for. We told him Domingo and he said he didn´t know if he was home and that he couldn´t look for him because he was locked in. Umm, what? Apparently he´s a drug addict and his little brother locks him in his room (they´re called piezas when someone rents just one room in a huge house, and the majority of our investigators live in piezas instead of in houses with their families) because that´s the only way he doesn´t do drugs. There were bars on the windows and he had to hold up the window to talk to us, so we knelt down to be on his level and I helped him hold up the window while we talked about the Atonement. How´s that for an absurd image of the day (Cambrie, if you are reading this, that´s for you)?
The cakes that we make in the microwave are the bomb. Thank you! Really, we´ve been enjoying everything.
Sorry this email is so lame, but so you know, I´m still doing well, and thanks for the emails this week. Really, it´s a pretty awful feeling when I open my email and all I have is stuff from the mission office. I encourage you all to use at least a few minutes of The Sabbath Day to write your favorite Chilean missionary! I would appreciate it 100-fold.
Love you, have a good week!

Also, it´s getting ridiculously cold on the beach lately and the past couple nights I´ve been sleeping with my thermals and my sweatsuit and two blankets and socks and still dying. But summer´s coming, right? :)

Satan can´t live in Iquique anymore, because it´s the Celestial Kingdom!

Letter received 8/2/2010

Well, the good news is that we´re CELESTIAL MISSIONARIES again this week, and what´s better, we´re also a CELESTIAL ZONE!! We´ve all been working super hard (well, there is one companionship that´s slacking but we have some SUPER great companionships who make up for their laziness, and the level of the zone is based on averages, thank goodness) and we´re basically dead every night and especially by Monday, BUT we´re so happy that we don´t even rest, we just play! This morning we went up to Hospicio, which is a SUPER COLD city about 15 minutes up the mountain from Iquique. Everyone played soccer while I took pictures and wrote letters (soccer = not my strong point, as we discussed the last time, plus I´m still coughing from my bronchitis), but the best part was the medals that Mom sent in the package. I don´t know HOW she knew that we´d need them, but luckily Iquique won and everyone in the district was super happy to have a medal. The sunglasses/glowsticks/other things we´re saving for a party the last P-day before everyone leaves.
Tuesday we set a baptismal date, and we were super happy because it was a "real" date, aka not going to fall through because he´d already been to church. Lots of times we set a date but it can´t count if they´ve never been to church, so we set the date, wait for Sunday to come, and are super depressed when the investigator doesn´t come to church and we don´t have a baptismal date. But we had a really good lesson with Guillermo on Tuesday, the investigator who came to church basically out of the blue on Sunday, and he agreed to be baptized on August 14. In our zeal and ambition to have a baptism this transfer, we didn´t leave the 4 Sundays that we usually leave, in case they miss one Sunday. And guess who didn´t come to church yesterday? Guillermo. So, to have gone to church 3 times before his baptism, he´ll need two more and won´t be able to get baptized on August 14, the last Saturday of this transfer. And now we don´t have hope for a baptism before one of us leaves. Angel didn´t come to church either. That man... The fact is that we are super satisfied because of our work, that we feel like we´re doing everything possible, but we´re disappointed because some very important things on not happening on the part of the investigators, aka going to church so they can be baptized! But, it says in PMG that when we do everything possible and work with the Spirit, we might be disappointed in what happens but we won´t be disappointed with ourselves. Welcome to my life.
Carlos, my first convert here, received the priesthood yesterday! He´s been kind of less active ever since his baptism, but he was working basically 12 hours 7 days a week, and he just quit that job is looking for a new one, and he´s been really excited about everything at church. Last week Jorge, our super tall Paraguayan convert, and Felipe, who got baptized with his sister Allison, blessed the Sacrament together. It was such a great moment. Jorge is the bomb, he started sharing the gospel with one of his co-workers (she works in the morning and he works in the afternoon/evening, at the same desk, so he leaves his Book of Mormon and Principles of the Gospel book for her to read) but she lives in ZL´s area so they have been teaching her, and they told us last night that she accepted a baptismal date! And she said "Jorge told me that he felt the Spirit super strongly with the missionaries, and now I know what he was talking about!" Ah, there´s no greater feeling than having faithful, excited converts.
I got your package on SATURDAY because we had a special meeting about changes that are going to be happening. We don´t know much, but apparently Salt Lake told our mission president that transfers are going to be every month, or every 4 weeks, instead of every 6 weeks. The worst part is that the second that everyone heard the news, their first instinct was to start complaining. I couldn´t believe the amount of whining that we heard in that hour of our lives. I´m not sure if I used to be that person, but if I was, I´m certainly not now. We have monthly goals for baptisms as a zone, and that´s going to affect if we´re celestial missionaries or not, and seriously everyone started complaining that it´s going to stress us out and justifying why they won´t be able to do it, why their numbers are low, etc. Our zone leaders are SUPER great-- they´re my best friends and they really motivate us, but last week they asked HQ and I to evaluate them to see what they could be doing better. We said that they might be a little too interested in being our friends instead of rebuking us when we need it, and I guess they really took that to heart, because they just started to "darles palo," as they say here in Chile, which means rebuking them. They weren´t yelling, or insulting us, or anything, but they were giving us advice on what we need to do to be more effective missionaries, how we can boost our numbers, etc. Their numbers are always really good, so I respect their advice, and I was taking notes while everyone just started to complain more. It made me kind of angry to see the lack of respect they have for the revelation that our leaders (the brethren in Salt Lake who changed the system of transfers, the mission president who set goals for us, our ZLs who advise us) receive, and how they all supposedly want to be here on the mission, but they don´t want to do what´s necessary to really serve God. Okay, that was a little strong-worded, I apologize. But I´ve been feeling really, really good lately. I love being on the mission. God works miracles every single day, and many more when we are really obedient. I´ve been learning more than ever the purpose of being here on a mission and I love, love, LOVE it. I´m super grateful for this time I have in my life and really couldn´t be happier. Even the complaining missionaries in my zone got their act together eventually and did what was necessary to achieve the CELESTIAL ZONE status, so I really couldn´t ask for more.
On a related note, I really am more and more of a missionary every day. The most exciting thing in the package was the 10 EFY CDs, because I LOVE listening to EFY music! Hahaha. Does that ring a bell for any returned missionaries out there?
Okay, I love you all A LOT, even though you don´t write me. I´m grateful for the support I receive and the prayers as well. I hope you´re doing well, I pray for you every day! Have a good week!
With love,
Sister Coppins

Por la razon or por la fuerza

Letter received 7/26

Translation: By reason or by force.
Welcome to my week.

Last week I mentioned that I had bronchitis. With all my millions of drugs, I was sure that I was going to get better right away and spend the whole week working like a burro, as HQ says. We worked like burros all week, but I never got better. To be fair, I´m getting better, but I´m not really sure WHY it´s so slow, since I was super strict with my week of antibiotics and did all the crazy things that everyone told me (I need someone without crazy Latino traditions to tell me if it´s actually valid that when I have bronchitis I can´t drink cold drinks, the cold air is going to kill me, and I can´t leave the house without a scarf. I don´t know anything about being sick, apparently). But don´t worry, it didn´t stop our work at all and this week we were: CELESTIAL MISSIONARIES!
Of the seven companionships in our zone, 5 reached the celestial level, and we were only 3 new investigators short of being a celestial zone. I was a little tortured by that all night after I heard, but we are the only zone in level 3, and we were SO CLOSE to being celestial. It´s okay, we´ve got it this week.
So this is how it went down. We started out well Monday, with 2 new investigators and 1 lesson with a member. McKay told me they had members work with them every night. Que bendicion! We have a hard time working with members, but as the title of this email says (by the way, that´s the national slogan of Chile), we´re working by reason or by force and no matter what, this week is going to be better.
Tuesday night one of our zone leaders, Elder Gonzalez, worked with us. Our zone leaders are seriously amazing, they inspire us A LOT and always have really good ideas about how we can work harder and have more success. So naturally, we wanted to see how it´s done. E. Gonzalez is more or less our best friend, so he kept saying that actually he was with us to learn, not to teach, but it turned out to be a really good experience. We went to teach Liliana, who we met for the first time last Sunday (she was part of our miraculous Sunday). We had left 3 Nephi 27 for her to read, and when we asked what she had learned, she was like "mostly that I need to get baptized." So we started talking about that, and apparently she was almost about to get baptized before, the first time she met the missionaries, but never felt ready so she never did. But on Tuesday night she said that this time she really was ready, that she knew it was the right thing to do, etc. So we set a baptismal date for August 14th. And I set the date! It was sweet, the lesson was super spiritual and the little bit of pride in me was glad that Elder Gonzalez was there to see that instead of a lesson where we got totally shot down. She´s never come to church before, because she works during the night (we were super afraid that her job was going to interfere with her obedience to the law of chastity, and we didn´t know how to get her to tell us where she worked, so E. Gonzalez asked, but she just said she worked in a bar... we´ll get to that in a second), but she committed to come to church, said that she knew she really had to change her life, etc. We were super, super happy when we left, with a baptismal date for this transfer! We taught her again on Saturday, and discovered some unfortunate facts. We decided to teach the Sabbath Day, Word of Wisdom, and the Law of Chastity right off the bat, just to make sure that she really could get baptized. Tuesday when we were teaching she started crying when I was talking, I´m not really sure why, she just said that my voice made her really emotional. So HQ said that I had to teach chastity, because my "angelic" voice would testify to her that she had to obey. So I said what the Spirit told me, she said that there was no problem, that she would obey, and that there was nothing currently interfering with this commandment. Okay. Onto Word of Wisdom. HQ read the list of 5 things that the Word of Wisdom prohibits (coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking, and drugs) and Liliana said, "Okay, I have a problem with all of them." HQ: "Umm... all of them?" "Yes." "Drugs?" "Yup." Oooookay. Apparently she works in a bar to drink with men and the more she drinks, the more she gets paid. We verified (is that the word? Verificar?) up and down with law of chastity, to make sure she really doesn´t do anything else but drink, and really, that´s it. She told us that she leaves super drunk, but she gets paid more there than any other place she could work, and she has 4 kids she has to pay for, and this job lets her live comfortably. Also, because she gets super drunk every night, it´s really hard to wake up at 9 to get to church by 10 on Sundays. She told us that she´d go to bed early and that she´d come to church, by we went to pick her up on Sunday and she was sleeping and wouldn´t wake up. We are a little discouraged, and she definitely won´t be getting baptized on August 14th, but she told us that she knows she has to change, that she really wants to, that she knows the Lord can help her, and that she´s going to start right now to quit smoking and doing drugs. To stop drinking she´s going to need to find a different job, so we´re working on that, but really, we have a lot of faith. And so does she. And whoever stays, whether it´s HQ or me, is eventually going to have a super faithful convert.
By the way, transfers are in 3 weeks now, and I can´t remember who asked me if it´s been forever that I´ve been with HQ, but the answer is yes. We work super well together, and I think that´s why they left us together 3 transfers, but it´s pretty much guaranteed that this transfer one of us is leaving. In my interview with President Bruce he was like "Wow, this is your third transfer in Iquique, in your first area. That´s quite some time" and I was like, "Yeah, but this my companion´s fourth transfer" and he was like "Yeah, but she only has one more...." So we´re thinking it´s a possibility that I´ll leave and HQ will die (finish her mission) here. We´ll see what happens, but really, no matter what, it´s going to be sad to not be with her, and with our zone leaders, and with my district leader, Elder Vidal. He´s been my district leader since the beginning, and he´s our other best friend, but he finishes his mission this transfer. And we´re pretty sure they´re not going to leave Elder Gonzalez and Elder Insaurralde together another transfer either. If I stay and HQ, E. Gonzalez and E. Vidal all leave, it´s going to be way different and way sad. BUT I don´t need to think about transfers yet! We still have time!
So we´ve been having quite a hard time getting investigators to church. I think I´ve mentioned it before, but we do EVERYTHING we can. We ask them a million times if they´ll come, they say yes, we promise blessings, we tell them why it´s important, we invite them in every lesson, we call them Saturday night and Sunday morning, we go to pick them up on Sunday morning... and no one comes. The last few weeks we´ve had few prospects, but as of Sunday morning when we left the house, we had 9 people who said that they were definitely going to come. We were so pumped! Funny that even after a million weeks of everyone not showing up, we don´t lose faith, right? We called. We knocked on their doors. We showed up at church with no one, pretty much depressed. About halfway through Sacrament Meeting, Guillermo, who lives right next to the church and whose door we knocked on about 5 minutes before church started and no one answered, walks in. We were super happy. We only taught him once, on Saturday, but he was really interested. After Sacrament Meeting he was like "Where can I get one of those books that everyone is reading? I need to follow along during the talks!" Haha he´s great. Also, we were especially disappointed by Angel, an investigator who we´ve been teaching for quite some time. We set a date with him before, but he didn´t come to church the week after, so we stopped visiting him. Miraculously the week after that, he came, but we never saw him again until this week. He said he had really been missing us, and he wanted to start meeting with us again. He promised us a million times he´d come to church, but we never saw him come in. BUT! After Sacrament Meeting we were happily bringing Guillermo to Gospel Essentials and the bishop´s wife was like "Hey, someone named Angel is looking for you" and we freaked out. He came! He stayed all three hours (so did Guillermo), and he is surely going to get baptized. :) So, at long last, we had 2 investigators at church and it was sooo great.
Another funny story (time is running SUPER short but I want to tell you guys everything!): We knocked on Guillermo´s door before church and while we were waiting a young man passed by. I bet HQ that he was gringo, because he was super white and tall. She bet me he was Chilean. Guillermo didn´t answer, so we walked past the church to knock on Juan´s door, who is another investigator who lives on the other side of the church, but really close. While we were waiting there HQ told me that he (the gringo/Chilean) had entered the church, and he was walking by again. He stoppped where we were, and I said hello, but in Spanish, and in really broken English, he asked if I was gringo, and then he asked what we were doing. I told him yes, I´m from the USA, but also in really broken English because surprise! I can´t speak English anymore. Because I couldn´t remember ANY words to say to him in English, I told him that we were bringing our investigators to church. He asked what an investigator was, and if he had a magnifying glass. Like a spy, I guess? Anyway, he told me he was from Australia, so neither HQ or I was right, but I don´t understand why his English was so bad if he was from Australia. And he clearly didn´t speak Spanish, because he tried to ask HQ where she was from and she had no idea what he saying. I´m sure he was thinking the same thing about me, that he has no idea why I can´t speak English if I´m from the US. I asked him if he wanted to come to church with us, but he said that he had gone in but there were only old people and that it looked boring. I told him that the old people are always early and the young people are always late, but that it´s not really boring. He said we were going to make baby Jesus cry if we were late. It was a really awkward conversation, and really, I´m kind of worried that I won´t be able to speak in English at all when I get home. Writing isn´t a problem, but I think it´s because I still always read in English, and ever since Hermana Montandon left I NEVER speak English with anyone. We´ll see if I ever get any practice in before I come home.
Yesterday we needed 3 new investigators and 3 lessons with members to reach the Celestial level, and we knew we had to count on miracles, just like last week. A huge barrier was La Tirana Chica, which is just like the regular Tirana festival, but right here in our sector. Wonderful, right? Exactly the streets where we had all our appts were completely crowded with people in strange costumes dancing and playing instruments, and a million huge statues of the Virgin Mary with lights illuminating her. It was super creepy. BUT we had a member working with us, so we found our 3 new investigators, and had 3 lessons with members, and at 8 pm when we finished, I was practically dying, and we went to our apartment, dead tired, but super happy that we had accomplished our goals. We are celestial missionaries! It feels great.
I have more to say, and I want to send pictures, but the hour has passed oh-so-rapidly. I hope you´re all doing well, thank you thank you thank for your emails, I love you, and I next Monday I´ll let you know how our week was. Hopefully I´ll get better super quickly so we can work without fainting this week and be celestial missionaries again!
Sorry if this email was super jumbled-- as I mentioned, I don´t know English, we have no time, and I didn´t do a very good job of planning what I wanted to say. But I hope you understood, more or less, how my week was.
Have a good week! Love you!
Hermana Coppins