Monday, April 27, 2015

Volcano Calbuco

Well just another week here in Chile, nothing too exciting this week except some volcano erupting. It's only like 40km (25 miles) away from us, not a big deal or anything. Not something I will ever forget, and here's how it all started:

While working on companionship study this afternoon, we received a call from the zone leaders (other missionaries) in Puerto Varras. Elder Marsdon was frantic, and told my companion to immediately call all of the Hermanas in our district and tell them to get to the church immediately. I overheard this commotion, and my companion was just as confused. Elder Ryan asked why, had something bad happened?  And that's when Elder Marsdon frantically said, Volcano Calbuco has just exploded!  Over hearing this, I thought, no way!!! We open our curtains and look outside and see a mushroom cloud the size of a nuclear bomb.  WHAT! We missed a volcano erupting! We immediately started packing for the next 72 hours, we grabbed our kits, some clothes, extra food, made some frantic calls to our district, and quickly departed from the house. I asked Elder Ryan if there was anything we should be worried about, we could see the ash coming, but we definitely had some time before it settled. Elder Ryan then said something that pierced my heart...earthquakes. 

Bags in our hands, we hastily made our way over to the chapel before receiving further instruction.  During this hour, the smoke already miles high in the air, had begun spreading out, but it continued to spew from the top of the volcano like a fountain. Everyone was in awe and amazement as we stood outside, admiring the sheer magnitude and power of mother nature. The city went into red alert, other towns closer to the volcano were being evacuated.  We then received a call from our zone leaders, as to the plan for the evening. We were to go to a member's house and spend the night, but due to the massive amounts of calls, it was almost impossible to connect to anyone. Finally we got through to our Stake President who gladly welcomed us into his home.  We spent the night comfortably and safely, honestly just waiting to see what the plan was. Over night there was another eruption, around 1am, with lava and lightning...but when we woke up in the morning, everything was fine. The ash that had covered us the night before, had been taken away by the wind. It literally all blew north, we are sitting here right next to the volcano, and we have no ash. We were told to spend the day with members, in case anything else happened. Currently, it's very foggy and hazy, but we don't have any ash. The volcano has been steadily pumping out ash for the last couple days and we keep hearing rumors of a third eruption. 

It was definitely a crazy week, but we continued on with our normal plans. To be honest, we enjoyed the view, and have not suffered from any of the consequences. I've heard that the ash has reached Argentina, Uruguay, and is absolutely terrible in Osorno. But we are doing just fine over here, I am safe, and we are well prepared for any disasters.

Successes this week:
  • Survived a volcano eruption
  • Starting to understand the metric system
  • Flooded the church trying to fill up a baptismal font
  • Hit the halfway mark in the book Jesus the Christ
  • Backed up in a bus on the freeway because the driver forgot our stop
That's all I have for this week!
Love to you all,
Elder Haddad

View of the eruption from our house
The church and the mushroom cloud

View of Volcano Osorno (on left) and Volcano Calbuco (on right, behind tree)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chilly in Chile

Many adventures were had this week in Fruitillar. Many miles walked, many rain drops fallen, many fleas contracted :(, many cold nights spent, many "hola"'s shot down, but no spirits were weakened. The work is moving steadily along, this week we worked really really hard to find some new people. Not too much luck was had, but we have a lot of potential people. 

Highlight of this week was a drunk man we met named Diego, who sang us a song, cried, danced with a dog, and kissed Elder Ryan's hand about 100 times. 

This Sunday I also got to teach a gospel principles class in Spanish about the life of the Savior. The class didn't have a teacher, so I volunteered, and winged a 20 minute lesson on the earthly ministry of Christ, in front of the other missionaries, and members of the stake presidency. Not too bad for some gringo!

Lots of pictures this week of Fruitillar and the food here, it's so amazing. We really enjoyed this week, and next week I will have plenty more updates. The work is steadily moving along here. 

Love to you all,
Elder Haddad

These are some of the homes in Fruitillar Bajo, super pretty, and there is a huge German influence down there. Everything is in Spanish and German. It's actually really interesting.

We found this little German shop down by the beach, that sells all these alpaca sweaters, socks and mittens, everything they make is hand made! 
This is the theatre on the beach, it's the biggest in South's ridiculous. 

My first was amazing, it puts hot dogs in the US to shame. 
                   This is the view from Fruitillar Bajo.
If it wasn't foggy there would be a gigantic unreal volcano right there.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bienvenidos a Fruitillar

The first week in the field has come to an end. What an adventure it has been! Quick summary of the last 5 days. Elder Nielsen and I were greeted at the airport by the mission President and his wife. They took us back to the mission home, where the other missionaries who had arrived that day were waiting. Then we feasted, did some quick training, and then feasted again. I thought the first meal was wasn't. There was about 12 of us missionaries, Elder Nielsen and I were the only gringos, and we headed for a hotel to stay the night. The first day we took care of our visas, and financial errands, and then we all separated and headed to our zones. My new companion is Elder Ryan, he is from Kaysville, Utah. He's been serving for 10 months now in Chile, and we work really well together. He is hard working, obedient, and genuine.

Our week went really well. The first couple days were a blur, I was just so exhausted and hadn't caught up on sleep. But this week we got to know a lot of the members and the presidency, I met a lot of people and we have been trying to find some new investigators. That's our main goal, we have a lot of old investigators, but no one is progressing, so we are trying to find some people who are interested in taking the lessons. Elder Ryan shared something with me that has really been motivating me. It's honestly a blessing to be in an area that needs a lot of help, that means there is always work to do, people to meet, and members that need strengthening. 

How to describe Chile: Chile is like a giant camp ground. Everyone here uses wood fire stoves to heat their homes, so it always smells like you're camping here. People like to turn their homes into little stores, selling some drinks and bread. People also open up restaurants in the front of their home, I actually really like it. The people here all look really different, I think the best way to describe what the people look like here is everyone looks half white. Half Mexican, half white. Half Asian, half white, half Pacific Islander, half white. half Indian, half white. We run into some really light skinned people here, and it's kind of weird hearing them speak Spanish.

Our area: We are serving in Fruitillar, yes we have a beautiful view of the volcano and of the lakes. It's quite a beautiful city, but the part that we are assigned to is all the residential area. Our sector is small, probably about 2500 people total. We have a branch, not a ward here, meaning it's not big enough to become a ward. 

Our investigators: This week we found 6 new investigators. Mirrium and Juan Carlos own a little store that we stopped in, we have chatted with them a lot of times. They had a daughter that passed away, and we have shared the plan of salvation with Mirrium, who seems interested and hopeful in our message. We plan on inviting them to baptism, but have been struggling to get an appointment set up! Most of our lessons with Mirrium have been just over the counter in the store. But we are trying to be patient. Our second set of people we spent a lot of time with this week is Max and Stephanie. Max is a recent convert, who we have been focusing a lot of attention on. He is 26 and yesterday received the Aaronic priesthood! We really need some more priesthood holders in our branch, we currently only have about 12. He reads the Book of Mormon at an insane pace, so he is really eager to learn, which is great to see. Stephanie was an inactive member, who is making her way back. Stephanie and Max are married and have two adorable twin babies, maybe 3 months old. 

A note about the language. People here speak Chilean, it's not exactly Spanish. They like to talk fast, and they don't open up their mouth. I can understand certain people, depending on how fast they talk, and how clearly they speak. Thankfully I can understand everything my companion is saying in Spanish. Because coming from a gringo, it's easy to hear. But most people are really difficult to understand, I pick up words here and there, and I usually need my companion to help me translate. What makes it hard, is it's not a matter of my speaking ability, its a struggle in the understanding. But since day one, after getting use to the accents, I have been able to pick up so much more! I'm just starting to pick up on all the Chilean slang here. Haha it's a vocabulary in itself. 

What to know if you ever travel to Chile:
They say Hallo and Chow, for hello and goodbye.
They add -po as a suffix to any word they want. 
They eat breakfast, lunch, "once", and dinner. Once is like bread and coffee meal.
The bread here is amazing, everyone makes fresh bread. 
The amount of food I have eaten in one meal, doesn't seem humanly possible. 
The portions that people give you here are unreal. 
People say Hola, Hola, istead of just Hola, and Hola joven a lot.

Elder Nielsen and I leaving for Chile

Elder Ryan and I with the Mission President and his wife
My new companion Elder Ryan

With Love,
Elder Haddad

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The story of Tim Itri and Kay Dan

This week we got the opportunity to become fake investigators. We got to make our own profiles and then another companionship in our district practiced teaching us. Elder Nielsen and I came up with the diabolical profiles of Tim Itri and Kay Dan (Elder Nielsen's first name is Kaden). I was playing the role of Kay and Elder Nielsen playing the role of Tim. We wanted to make it hard on the Hermana's who were teaching us, so we picked a really creative occupation for our profile. We were both drug lords who sold cocaine to suppliers. We also had to come up with a reason as to why we wanted to meet with the missionaries. And Elder Nielsen and I decided we would take our profiles a step further and pretend that we were investigating the church because we were interested in the idea of polygamy. There were no restrictions to who we could be, so we just let the creative and evil juices flow. 

Now, even though our profiles were completely a joke, we had one rule: we had to stick to the profile during the entire lesson. As the Hermana's began to find out about our occupation and interests, they began to see that it wasn't going to be easy to teach the restoration of the gospel to two cocaine drug lords. We had some pretty good laughs in the lesson, it was hard to keep a straight face. We developed our profiles further that we had tried to sell cocaine to someone who declined our invitation because they were a member of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", we told the Hermanas that we were curious as to why such a large population was refusing our business. They pressed us with difficult questions, and regarding a question as to if we had seen God in our lives, we came up with the story that Tim had momentarily died from a drug overdose, and he saw a vision in which the Lord told him that it wasn't his time to go yet. As the feelings of guiltiness and regret began to set in, we eased up a bit. But tonight, the Hermana's have to teach Tim and Kay again, we will see how it goes. Anyway, you never know who you're going to meet on the street, so it's good practice. 
Now just a couple updates: 

Branch Presidency

  • This is our final week in the MTC, and it's getting pretty empty here. Last Sunday, which was a fast Sunday (meaning we fast for two meals for the purpose of donating the money we would of used for the needy) and we all got to share our testimonies. It didn't take very long considering we only had 10 people in the room. All 8 members of our district and 2 members of our branch presidency. It was probably the fastest sacrament meeting I had been in. And for our Priesthood lesson, Elder Jensen and Elder Crockett, taught Elder Nielsen and I....It was an interesting experience, but it was our last Sunday here at the MTC.  It was definitely tough to say goodbye to our presidency. 

Branch Presidency

  • We have been enjoying some beautiful weather here in Mexico, 75 degrees and sunny skies, with the occasion freak rain storm. We spent a lot of this week playing beach volleyball or dreaming about our missions. 
  • This week in TRC we taught a real investigator, she had taken 2 lessons from the missionaries, and honestly it was one of Elder Nielson and I's greatest lessons. The spirit was so powerful and we taught her about prophets and committed her to watch general conference. Without a doubt, I know she will get baptized. We had a member with us during the lesson to make sure we didn't mess stuff up too bad, because her salvation like actually deepened on it. The member told us that that was one of the best lessons he has heard missionaries teach in the MTC, and he said it makes him want to bring in more real investigators for the missionaries to practice. 
    Mexico City Temple



 These two photos are of the Mexico City Temple, which we got to visit today. It is a really high tech temple. However, we only got to go the visitors center because the temple is closed for construction.                                                                                      

Mexico City Temple Visitor's Center

  • We will be watching general conference here at the MTC, which I am really excited about

  • Elder Nielsen and I are leaving Monday at 4:00, we are flying from Mexico to Santiago Chile, which is an 8 hour flight, then we have a 7 hour layover and are flying directly from Santiago to Osorno. This time next week I will be in Chile!                             With love,                               Elder Haddad     
This is our morning teacher, Hermana Valesquez, she is fantastic and has a lot of patience for us