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

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