Monday, March 27, 2017

Hi Everyone!  

The baptisms of Dilan and Benjamín went great!  (In the photo above: Elder Burgos and I with Benjamín, his brothers, his sister, and her boyfriend and little boy. In the photo below: Elder Burgos and I with Dilan, his aunt, and friends.) Their baptisms were miracles really, as Benjamin had been investigating the church for several years, never recieving permission from his sister to get baptized, until now. And Dilan at first wanted to cancel the baptism since his mom wouldn´t be able to make it, as she doesn´t live with him. However, in the end, he also made the brave decision to be baptized, and the branch in Chañaral is now growing because of the youth converts!!

Speaking of recent converts, Catalina is still doing well, and staying strong in the church, and we´ve started teaching her step-dad, Hugo, who isn´t a member of the church. When we were passing by to prepare Catalina for baptism, Hugo always greeted us with only a few words, and then went into the other room. He seemed cold and unreceptive to us, but we decided one day, when we passed by after Catalina´s baptism to continue teaching her, that we would try teaching Hugo as well. And it turns out he is super receptive!!! He simply is someone that keeps to himself, but we never asked him if he was interested. He doesn´t have a firm faith in God or in Jesus Christ, but really enjoyed our message, and agreed with the principles of the doctrines of Christ, and that by having faith and praying to God to truly know for himself, he can recieve his own answer. He even accepted the idea that baptism is a necessary step, and that he´d like to prepare to be baptized if he feels that what we´ve taught him is true!!! 

We also recently had the opportunity to have a home evening with an inactive family. Because of a problem of one family member, the rest as well stopped going to church. However, as we talked with them, it was obvious that they have strong desires to re-animate the family and begin attending again. I decided to share with them the story of Peter, and the perspective you shared with me a few weeks ago: that we often focus on Peter´s lack of faith, and the fact that he began to sink, but we forget that he didn´t drown! He got back up, and he continued forward with Christ, and they walked back to the boat together. Thanks for that insight, Mom! It really animated that family, and helped them realize that we all start to sink at some point in our lives. But it´s important to focus on what we decide to do afterwards... to stand up, and continue forward with Christ. :)  I hope you all have another great week, and I´ll talk to you later!

Love, PJ (Elder Checketts)  ;)
P.S... about conference... I CAN´T BELIEVE APRIL IS ALREADY COMING UP!!!! I feel like I was just watching the October conference in Calama!!! We also have a zone conference tomorrow with Presidente Ferreira, and those are always great! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hi everyone!  

I´m glad you´re doing well!  This week, we´ve seen tons of miracles! First off, we have two baptisms this Saturday: Benjamin, and Dilan. Benjamin is 12, and Dilan is 13. Both are miracle baptisms. Benjamin has been an investigator FOREVER! His sister is a less active member, and she´s his legal guardian, so as he is under age, she has to be the one to sign the baptismal form. The sister missionaries had tried time and time again to teach him and prepare him, but his sister would never give permission for him to get baptized, because she felt like he still didn´t know enough about the church. However, we´ve only been teaching him for a little more than 2 weeks, and when we went to talk to his sister, she signed the baptismal form immediately!!! It just shows that everyone has their time, and that the Spirit will soften the hearts of the people, when it is God´s will that something happens. The other young man is Dilan. He lives with a part member family, and so he had already heard quite a bit about the church, but as we were preparing him with the lessons, and began planning his baptismal interview, he told us that he probably wasn´t going to get baptized, because it´s likely that his mom can´t come to the baptism. However, he agreed to have the interview anyway, and afterwards was super animated and ready to take the step of baptism in his life!!! This week, we also ran into a lady who is a member of the church, but her family aren´t members, and she was the mamita to the missionaries for several years! We also met by coincidence a woman who said her son goes to the LDS church. When she told us his name, we realized it´s one of the hermana´s converts, that´s now super strong in the church, and acompanies the missionaries frequently! So that was really cool to see!  In answer to your question, the other Elders that live with us are from Bolivia, and Peru. They´re cool as well, and definitely help to improve my Spanish. ;)   I hope everyone has a great week!

-Elder Checketts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hey, everyone!

This week, we were blessed with the baptism of a fourteen year-old girl named Catalina. She was thoroughly prepared by the hermanas (sister missionaries) that were here in Chañaral before us. It was a beautiful experience for her, and for her mom, Zunilda, who is also a member, but has not come to church in several years. 

At the baptism, the Spirit was extremely powerful. Zunilda, who was normally telling us about something bad that happened during the week, had a complete change of perspective, and she mentioned how touched she felt to be part of the baptism of her daughter. In showed simply but powerfully, the change each one of us can have if we simply let the Spirit into our hearts. 

This reminded me of a scripture that I love:

´´I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.´´ Doctrine and Covenants 82:10

The Lord has promised us His Spirit if we simply accept Him and His teachings in our lives. I also love the fact that the Lord doesn´t limit us and our potential. He wants us to be as happy as possible. This not only became a realization when we saw the change the Spirit made on Zunilda, but also something I´ve seen with the loss of the Spirit any time I´ve had an argument with my companion. The opposite is very true as well: that we bacome extremely limited in our potential if we DON¨T allow the Spirit in our hearts. 

´´No estáis limitados por nosotros, sino que estáis limitados por vuestro propio corazón.´´ 2 Corintios 6:12

This scripture is one I´ve shared before, but one I love, especially in Spanish. The scripture is a little different in English, but the literal translation is, ´´Ye are not limited by us, but rather, ye are limited by your own heart.´´ I love those words, and are the ones the I reflect on again and again each day to see if I have done my part in the work of the Lord. Am I limiting myslef today? And how can I improve upon that? 

Overall this week was a good one, and I learned a lot. I hope all of you have another great week, and I´ll write you next Monday!

- Elder Preston Checketts

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hey, everyone! 

This week has been great, here in Chañaral!  The town is really peaceful, and right next to the sea, surrounded by mountains.  

I had the unique opportunity to visit one of Uncle Bart´s converts here in Chile!
When I entered Chañaral, I was really excited to be able to contact several of the people taught by Elder Vance, when he was here several years ago. I made sure not to forget the name Jorge Rojas, that he told me to contact, if I ever made it here. So the first thing I did when I got here, was ask the branch president where Jorge lived, and went to visit him. Unfortunately, when I passed by, he was working, but his wife made sure to tell him that I had passed by to see him. The rest of the week we worked as usual, with the hope to visit Jorge the next week sometime. However, during sacrament meeting on Sunday, during the opening hymn, the man in front of me passed me this photo:

Jorge was super excited to hear that Elder Vance was doing well, as was his sister Deisy, that got baptized at the same time as Jorge, but is not currently living in Chañaral. But upon the request of showing Elder Vance that he´s also doing well, we took this picture:

​Years later, and here´s Jorge, his mother, his wife, and his oldest son, who has since returned from a mission in Guatemala. It was super cool to be able to visit this family, and talk about his conversion, and all that has happened since the missionaries first knocked on his door in 1988.

In other news, my companion and I have a baptism this Saturday! It´s a 13 year-old girl named Catalina, whose mom is a less active member. Catalina was taught by the sister missionaries that were here before, and she has a lot of desire to be baptized and follow Christ. 

As well, today for p-day we took pictures of Chañaral from a local lighthouse. hope you enjoy :)

​Hope everyone enjoyed the photos, and I´ll let you all know how the baptism went!

-Elder Checketts