Monday, July 25, 2016

This was another great week, but I can't believe I forgot to send the picture of Eduardo's baptism, so here it is, before I forget!
We are preparing for his son, Daniel's, baptism on the 30th, and his wife Eliana is becoming more receptive, and enjoys the church, and Eduardo is planning on baptizing the both of them, now that he has the priesthood. We also had several amazing new investigators this week! One of our new investigators is a woman named Dora, who contacted us because of a drug addiction she has been battling for years. She heard of one of her friends giving up a crippling habit years old, after talking to the missionaries and getting baptized, and that instantly interested her. She truly wants to change, and knows that God is the only one that can truly help her to do so. It was amazing to see someone so humbly ask for such help out of desperate need, because they know through God, all things are possible.  We also had a lesson with an older woman named Maria. She has investigated many churches over the years, but has felt that there is something missing, and has constantly looked for something to save her. When we asked her to pray to know if our message of the restoration was true, she stopped and said, ''I don't need to. I feel it's true every time you speak.'' It truly has been humbling to see people so close to God, because they understand so clearly His purpose in their life. I love helping the people here in Chile, and it is so rewarding to see people so committed to finding out for themselves. I hope all of you had great weeks too, and I'll update you all next week!

-Elder Checketts

Monday, July 18, 2016

This week, Eduardo got baptized, and it was amazing!!!

I'm glad I've been able to see the amazing transformation he has gone through, starting as a heavy smoker, and Bible-basher, and ending up as a member of the Church, with a testimony of all the things he has learned. It's really been a miracle.  I've seen the whole process with Eduardo, and how much he has changed. When we were getting ready before the baptism, I was kind of nervous, just because I know how important something like a baptism is for a person's life, but I felt so much peace and joy, telling me both he and I were ready for the baptism.  When I baptized him, I felt the power of my words so strongly, knowing I truly am commissioned of Jesus Christ, and that this is an incredible step for him! I'm doing well, and feel like I'm learning a lot from the people and situations.  And on the 30th, he will be baptizing his 15 year old son, Daniel, who has quickly grown interested in our lessons, and grown close to several of the youth in the branch. Eduardo's wife, Eliana has some doubts about the gospel, but she is receptive enough to listen to us, and agrees with many important principles we teach.  Hopefully, she will continue to listen to the lessons, and see what a change the gospel makes in her husband, and son's lives.

Something I've really been learning this week, and weeks prior, is that a mission is unlike any other spiritual experience out there.  I began, expecting it to be a place that would lift me up spiritually, such as church, the temple, or even a place like EFY.  Instead, I was kind of surprised (even though I shouldn't have been) to find that the external circumstances of my mission are no more special or spiritual than anywhere else. It is absolutely necessary to rely on the Lord in the field, because if you don't, you can't edify yourself or others spiritually.  I expected it to be easier to be happy as a missionary as well, but in fact, it is a lot easier to get discouraged as a missionary.  We have to deal with lots of rejection every day, and I've thought a lot about why its harder to stay optimistic here, than simply as a member. I have realized that it is because it requires trust in the Lord, more than ever, and when we work hard to be happy, it is so much more worth it. I am convinced that the special light missionaries carry with them is very much due to the fact that they work harder than ever to have it. I truly love being a missionary, because the happiness I'm able to recieve here is truly a gift from God. 

I hope everyone else had a great week! Talk to you again next week! 

-Elder Checketts

(From PJ's mom---as a side note...When I emailed PJ this week, I asked him if his new mission President & his wife speak much English, since they are from Santiago, Chile, and he said, "They actually don't know that much English. They know a couple of words, so they spoke to us completely in Spanish, but it's ok... they talk clearly, so I can understand everything they say. ;)"  And when I asked him about any foods that he misses & might like in a care package, he said, "For food, Nutella is always nice, and you can't find Cheez-its here, so I'd like that too! :) (Oh, and if you could mail some Chick-fil-a, that'd be great!) ;) lol

Monday, July 11, 2016

Another great week!

This week we had conference with President Ferreira and his wife, and then interviews and activities the day after, and it was absolutely awesome!  I loved President and Hermana Dalton, and wish I had gotten to know them better, but I can't say I am anything but impressed by the Ferreiras.  Hermana Ferreira is super fun and nice, and already knows the mission, and President Ferreira has a very apparent love for the missionaries.  I can tell they both will be great leaders of the mission, and I can't wait to get to know them even more.

During the interviews, while a missionary was in with President, the rest of us stayed and had a discussion and played some get-to-know-you games with Hermana Ferreira. We watched a short clip from Mulan that went along with what she was talking about, and because of that, I've had ''Make a Man out of You'' stuck in my head all week! Then I had my interview with President Ferreira, and it was really cool, because it's very apparent how much he loves the missionaries. He looked me in the eyes during the interview, and said, ''Elder, on Monday, when you write your family, let them know, how happy I am to have you as a missionary in this mission, and let them know that I expect great things from you.'' I can tell he will be a great president, and I can't wait to get to know him even more as my mission goes on.  

In other news, Eduardo had his baptismal interview, and is working hard not to smoke! We bought him a big bag of caramels to help him, and he's continuing to work toward his baptism on the 16th, and baptize his son and hopefully his wife too, on the 30th, which is incredible!! It has really been amazing to see the change he has gone through, and what effort he is making to stay on the track for baptism.  It's a miracle really to see people rise above the things that have been a problem for them, for so long. It's a miracle because they have to rely on Christ to do it, but as soon as they do, He won't let them down.  

I also have some funny stories this week.  Having a Latino companion, and being fairly new to Spanish, I'm prone to making some mistakes that are sometimes pretty funny.  For example, earlier this week, I was explaining to Elder Aparco the plot line of Romeo and Juliet, and how at the end, Romeo drinks poison, and Juliet stabs herself with a knife.... but instead of saying cuchillo (knife), I accidentally said cuchara (spoon).... personally I think that would be a more interesting ending..... but it was kind of funny. There was also one time when we were talking about food, and I was saying something about maple syrup (jarabe de arce), but instead said jarabe de ALCE (moose syrup). I thought that one was pretty funny too. Another one that a lot of missionaries mess up on (though I haven't), is accidentally saying pescado (fish) during a lesson, instead of pecado (sin).... it leads to funny things like, ''Brother, if you trust in God, I know you will be able to find repentance from your fish''.  Anyway, hope that amused you a little! Talk to you guys next week!

I hope everyone else had a good week as well, and everyone is continuing to enjoy the summer. I'll update you next week!

-Elder Checketts

Monday, July 4, 2016

This was a great week! I had my first baptism, and Franco, who usually is very timid and shy, had a huge smile on his face during the baptismal service! His family was there, as well as several friends of his who are non-members. We were able to get several new investigators out of that, and over all, the baptism was a great experience! 

This week, there was also both progression, and digression with our investigators.  Eduardo again came to church with his son, and is taking the commitment to be baptized seriously (something I never would have predicted).  However, one of our most prospective investigators, Maricel, will not be able to be contacted for a month or so, as she has to go visit her mother who is in bad health. Maricel has long been our most interested investigator, already with a huge testimony of the things we teach, but has continued having problems that have prevented her from coming to church.  I've thought about this whole situation quite a bit. The fact that one of our most stubborn investigators has a baptismal date, and that one of the most promising is unable to be contacted, shows me that we as missionaries will never truly know who is the most ready for baptism, if we are preparing people WE WANT for the church, rather than people GOD WANTS for the church.  I know God prepares souls ready to hear the gospel, to be placed in the path of the missionaries.  But I think, sometimes we focus on our needs first, and that blinds us.  If the prepared people in need of help from the gospel are like the beaten traveler in the story of the Good Samaritan, we need to make sure we are filling the role of the Good Samaritan, and not the priest, who walks on the other side of the road, saying, ´´I would help.... if I weren't busy with the Lord's work´´. When we focus on what God wants from us, we will always accomplish our purpose as missionaries, members, and children of God.  

I hope everyone has a good week, and are led to the people who are in need of their help! I'll update you all again, next week! 

-Elder Checketts

Below are pictures from Franco's baptism!

And here is a little bit from the email PJ sent to our family, that I thought was so great:
"...It's about Christ.  I'm not perfect.... but He is, and so if I do what I have been called to do, Christ will perfectly bless his son or daughter through an imperfect missionary.  And that is why it is also worth it... because it is hard. I love all of you, and I want you to know that if something is really hard for you to work through, it's probably because there is something you are meant to learn from it. I hope you all have another great week! Love you so much!"