Monday, August 29, 2016

This week, we saw lots of miracles! First off, Jussep got baptized! He's an awesome youth, who has consistently been walking to church every Sunday, by himself to get there.  Although not a member, his mom is very religious, and was there to support him.

This week, a 9 year-old girl named Antonia was also supposed to get baptized, but her sister got sick and had to go to the hospital, so the family thought it would be better to postpone her baptism until next week.  At first I was upset. Why would Heavenly Father NOT want her to get baptized this week? It didn't make any sense to me at the time.  Later, we went to go visit Antonia's parents, Justina and Javier, who need to get married before they are able to get baptized.  While visiting them, they told us that the paperwork for their marriage has gone much faster than expected, and they will be getting married on Tuesday, and will be baptized with their daughter this upcoming Saturday!!!  It really was a miracle for them, and for us, and it just shows that when we put God first in our lives, He will provide ways for us the fulfill His commandments, and His plan is ALWAYS higher than the plan we have for ourselves. It was truly an amazing experience, and so the three of them will be baptized together this week.  I hope everyone else had a good week as well, and I'll update everyone again next week! 

-Elder Checketts

Saturday, August 27, 2016

(From Preston's Mom:)
I got another message from a lady in Preston's ward, along with a short note: 
She said, "Your son eating bolivian food in my house."  :)  It's great to see pictures, and know he's doing well and getting fed, and that the sweet members there are taking good care of the missionaries. (It looks like PJ just got a very short buzz haircut too...)  :)

I wrote to PJ, asking him what this was & if he liked it.  This was his response...

We've been visiting (this member) a lot lately, because her husband is preparing for baptism.  The soup is called ''fricase''.  It was kind of weird, but it was good.  It was spicy, and I haven't had spicy food in forever!!! (Chileans like bland stuff).  Every Saturday and Sunday, we eat with members, the rest of the days we eat with our mamita (who cooks really well!)  I haven't really eaten anything really weird... Its mostly just rice, chicken, beans, empanadas...things like that. Empanadas are REALLY good!! There's an empanada place close, that we've gone to several times.... and it's like heaven!! The only weird thing I've been served was ''watita'' (cow stomach), but it was our mamita in Alto Hospicio, and she said ''you can try it if you want, but don't have to''.... so I didn't.  There was also a werid soup I got once in Alto Hospicio, but that was like a native mapuche recipe or something, but I haven't really gotten much else really out of the blue.  They have really potent olives here that are really gross, that they sometimes put in empanadas, but that's it.  Anyway, love you, and have a good week!

Love, PJ

Monday, August 22, 2016

This week, Daniela got baptized!

As I said before, Daniela is a twelve year old girl, with lots of personal drive for attending, getting baptized, and really sees the importance of all of it.  She has very little support from her family, but it is very apparent, that she feels the spirit, and knows that this is the true church.  

We also had an amazing lesson with a youth named Jussep. He also doesn't have much family support for church, but always walks there to get to church every Sunday.  In our lesson with him, we asked him about all of the principles he had only recently learned, many things only seconds earlier, and he quickly answered all of them, ''Of course, I'll do that! or, "Of course I know it's true!" 

These amazing investigators have really shown me how easy it has been for me to come to church, to be baptized, and to receive blessings from church attendance.  They are truly dedicated, and understand so much for their young age. 

I hope everyone else had another great week, and I'll update you all again next week!

-Elder Checketts

(And here is a little addition from one of the personal letters to Neil...)

It is getting hotter here!  And Calama is the middle of the desert, so it gets really hot!  But I've been kind of sick for the past few days, so I was really cold several mornings, but I'm getting a lot better.

I have a funny story for you, though!  There's this awesome family of members in our ward, and we went to do a family home evening with them one night, and they have this hyper, black dog that is just getting out of it's puppy stage, and reminded me so much of Zoe!  I could just imagine it.  The mom gave us banana bread, and my companion put his piece on his knee as he pulled something out of his bag.  The dog came and snatched the bread, and ate it in less than a second!  It was really funny.  Then they put her outside, and shut the door, but at some point the door was opened again, but she didn't enter.  She knew she was in trouble!  When she finally decided to come in, she slunk in like she wasn't supposed to.  It was really funny, and made me laugh, just how similar it seemed to your stories about Zoe!  Anyway,  hope you are doing well, and have another great week!

Oh, and I forgot to tell you!  We went to a baptism in another ward, and there was this really tall lady there at the baptism.  We talked to her, and it turns out she's from Russia!  She's from Moscow, but she was interested in the fact that you served in Russia, even though it was in a different part.  She asked when you served, and I said '91-'93.  She laughed, and said, "He was a pioneer!"  It was interesting to talk to her, and she liked the story about Matt Rose going to Belarus.  She said that almost happened to her.  She accidentally got on a plane going to Siberia, but realized at the last minute.  Anyway, thought that was interesting, and you might be interested.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

I hope everyone had another great week!

This week was great for us, as it was full of baptismal interviews! We have several very prepared investigators ready for their baptisms, such as Justina and Javier, who are an awesome couple that are doing everything they can to get married, to be ready for their baptisms.  In Chile, its extremely common for people to live together and have kids, without being married, because they find it easier than having to go through marriage paperwork.  Its often a very complicated obstacle for our investigators, but its definitely true that when people decide to do something to fulfill God's commandments, He will bless them, and empower them with the ability to do what they need to. Another amazing investigator we have is Daniela, who is only twelve, but is ready and excited for baptism, despite lack of support at home.  In reality, we have been blessed with a lot of ready and animated investigators, and have had very powerful, amazing lessons that show the reality of God's hand when helping missionaries to say the exact things that need to be said. 

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer they have! While it's transitioning from summer to fall in North America, it's transitioning from Winter to Spring, here in Chile, and as it gets closer to summer, its going to get REALLY hot! (Especially in the middle of the desert, in Calama!) I hope everyone has another good week, and I'll update everyone again next Monday!

-Elder Checketts

From Preston's mom:  As a side note, I woke up this morning & found a message on my facebook, from someone that I don't know, that said, "Your son is in my ward, he is so smart and lovely, congrats for that!"  :)  It made my day!  I sent a quick note to PJ to tell him, because I knew he would be online later today, and when he wrote us his weekly letters, he said that Narda (The lady who emailed me) served a misión in LA, so she speaks a Little English. Her husband is actually getting ready to have his baptism on Sunday, which is exciting! We have his on sunday, and a twelve year old named Daniela on Saturday.  But yeah... if you get friend requests or something from people in Chile, its probably because they know me :) Anyway, love you! Hope you have another great week!

Love, PJ

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hey, everyone!

This was a good first week in Calama, and I'm really enjoying it here!  My new companion is Elder Jennings, from Las Vegas, and he has tons of ''ánimo'' as they say here.  

It's drier, and hotter, and colder here, but its really nice. A lot of people say that Calama is the richest city in the mission. I think its because the huge mine is really close, and its not big enough to have really ghetto poor areas. I'm also in the richest sector in the city, so I've been really blown away by some of the houses. Some parts could totally pass as the U.S.  It's a big contrast from Alto Hospicio. But that also means that people are a little less receptive, but it's ok, we have some awesome investigators that are getting really close to baptism, so that's super awesome!  And about your question of La Mano Del Desierto, its in Antofagasta, and missionaries can go visit it. Hopefully I'll be able to, but Calama has some really cool things too. We were able to visit Chuquicamata today, which is the world's largest open-pit mine, that was really interesting to see, and there is also a really touristy old village not far away, called San Pedro de Atacama, and the famous Valle de la Luna. I'm excited to see all those areas & get to know more of Calama as well!

We have some very strong, progressing families that are very close to baptism, and although I miss people in Alto Hospicio, I am really excited to continue to help the people here in Calama, and I couldn't be happier with the people I've been able to meet wherever I go, according to God's will for me, and for them.  We have already had some very powerful, humbling lessons, and it's such a powerful testimony for me of the truth of these things, and that missionaries are not alone when teaching. We have had some wonderful spiritual experiences here.  Below are some pictures of me and Elder Jennings, and of the mine. I hope you all had a good week, and I'll update again next monday!

-Elder Checketts

Monday, August 1, 2016

Another great week! We had the baptism of Eduardo's son, Daniel, which was really neat, and Eduardo is really growing as a member of the church, truly becoming part of the branch.

I also received the news that I'm leaving Alto Hospicio! I've loved teaching and getting to know the people here, but I'm also really excited to get to know more areas of the mission.  The city I'm going to is called Calama. It's a fairly large city, and is the farthest in-land of all the cities in the mission. That means I'll be hours from the ocean, and in the middle of the desert.  Because of that, Calama is really hot during the day, and really cold at night... and literally in the middle of the driest place on Earth.  The world's largest open-pit mine is also in Calama, mining copper. I'm excited to get to know the area and the people, and can't wait to start teaching! It will be six hour bus ride to Calama, but its not too long, considering the size of the mission.

My new companion is Elder Jennings. I haven't met him yet, but I'd assume he's gringo, by his name. We also got news that sister missionaries will be coming to Alto Hospicio, after seven years or so of it being the only zone in the mission without Hermanas. Elder Aparco and his new companion will share the branch with the sisters, and the sisters will have the sector that Elder Francis and I had before. (Since it was four elders in Tarapacá, and then shrunk to 2 when it was just me and Elder Aparco, it will now be four missionaries again, but two will be the hermanas.) They're going to live in the apartment that was previously where the senior missionaries lived, and it's nice! It's super clean, and has a microwave and its own washer, and patio.

I hope everyone had a great week as well, and I'll update you all next week!

-Elder Checketts

Below are some photos I took with the members and investigators here, in Alto Hospicio: