Serving an LDS Mission in Vina del Mar, Chile.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Natural Disasters & A Spiritual Experience

Okay. Thoughts about R** [his new nephew]. First off I like the name. It's not boring or overused (or used at all). It's original and R** just sounds cool. I approve of the name. As for who he looks like more - I have no idea. Every picture is different so at this time I cannot make an accurate, informed decision - in other words, more picture are required for analysis ;) He is really cute though. I'm excited to "meet" him in May. Assuming Skype decides to work of course. 
As for answers to questions - No I did not get transfered and neither did my comp so everything is still in the normal swing of things. Yes, I did get the package. THANK YOU! OH, my comp says thank you, too. He was really happy when he found out that half of the stuff was for him. 
So I'm actually surprised that Mom didn't ask me about all of the things that happened / are going to happen in Chile. To sum up the current events of the past week.....Don't read this, Mom, unless you want to go into an anxious, worried frenzy. You've been warned.
The northern part of Chile is the most arid desert in the world (yes, more arid than the Sahara). All of Chile has been in a drought for YEARS. Well, this week we got rain. A lot of rain for a desert in a drought. Long story short - we aren't supposed to drink water from the tap for a while because the river now has a ton of harmful minerals and chemicals in it and the filtration plant isn't working now. Apparently God´s protection is real because everyone who drinks the tap water (before boiling it and adding 10 drops of bleach (yes, 10) ) gets sick immediately - except the missionaries! We haven't done anything to our water because we don't have the time and none of us have gotten sick. Farther up north in Copiapó they received the amount of rain of 1 year in one day. In that area there are no trees so with all that rain and dirt there is a ton of mud. So much mud that there are 2-story houses that are completely covered. Miracle - the chapel is the only place that doesn't have a speck of mud but is completely surrounded by it. Also the members´ houses only got a little mud inside but none of them lost their houses. Oh, and now scientists from the US are saying that northern Chile is going to have a 9.5 earthquake soon. To confirm that, one of the missionaries has been dreaming of that earthquake for a few nights now. He only dreams when something is going to happen, and it ALWAYS happens. We´re just waiting to see what the prophet says this weekend. YAY!!!
So now for a spiritual story. Yesterday night all of our appointments had fallen through and we were headed to our last one. They weren't there. Right as we started walking, a neighbor (member) stepped out of her house and started telling us of another neighbor whose son had died 3ish weeks ago. Apparently this neighbor se acercó (cant remember the translation of that) [drew closer] to the member about 2ish weeks ago and told her everything. The member gave her a BOM and a Liahona. After she told us all of this we asked if she had time and if she could introduce us right then. She went with us to the house and the lady came out and told us that she was reading the Liahona right then and really liked what she was reading. We shared with her a part of the Plan of Salvation and Temples. Basically she told us that she was willing to join the church if God answered her pray about the BOM - that was a mini-miracle because apparently many churches have already visited her. God 1 and Satan none!
So ya. This week was great fun. Every missionary and member is excited for General Conference (the members mainly because they are waiting to hear what advice the prophet has for them in this time of disasters).
Love ya all!
Elder Groneman

Monday, March 23, 2015

Short and Sweet

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

So I'm an uncle......this is new......WOOOOT!!!!:)
So I don't have any crazy stories this week because it was the last week of the change. We are going to have changes this Tuesday/Wednesday. I'm guessing that my comp is going to go because he has been here for 3 changes already and President doesn't usually keep missionaries in an area for more than 3 changes unless they're new in the mission. I guess we´ll see......
All is going well. An elderly man accepted a baptismal date for the first time in like 14 years!!! Sooo many missionaries have tried to baptize him because his whole family are members except him. We are 100% sure that he will be baptized that day because he actually announced it to his family when they were having an asado (like a BBQ). So ya, in April there's going to be a baptism! Looking forward to helping another one of God´s children make a covenant that will allow them to enter into the Kingdom of God!
So that's all for this week. Love you all.
Elder Groneman!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Baptism & Zone Conference

So before I forget - Guess who I ran into this week? One of Mecham´s comps - Elder C** (I don't remember how to spell his name). Apparently he was also waiting for a visa to Venezuela that never came. So ya, I met him. Apparently Mecham and I are "exactamente lo mismo [exactly the same]". Okay?
So yes, The baptism did happen on Saturday. Her dad baptized her which was awesome because when I first came to this area he was inactive. There was also a lot of member support which doesn't always happen when the baptism is on Saturday.
For the first time in my mission I wanted to cry in a lesson for something other than feeling the Spirit. We were teaching a less-active family that was sealed in the temple. The wife is fine and realizes that the things that are happening are because they've stopped keeping all of the commandments. The husband is the opposite. The whole lesson he gave excuses and tried to justify himself and tell us that we didn't understand because we were young. The part that made me want to cry was when he said God will leave his children alone in the world sometimes. That's just the jist of what he said. He has lost the most basic and fundamental part of every testimony. God will NEVER leave us alone. He ALWAYS will help us. It's us that distance ourselves from Him. He will always have his hand outstretched waiting for us to take it so that He can lift us up.
This week was awesome. Baptism and Zone Conference. Oh, haha President Kähnlein surprised us and let us watch Meet The Mormons. Good movie - I highly recommend it.
So ya. Until next week!
Elder Groneman

Elder Groneman & Elder C** (a former companion of Parker's older brother, Mecham)

La Serena Norte Zone Conference

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trip to the Zoo

So we ended up not having the baptism yesterday. We didn't finish teaching her all of the lessons so we moved the date to Saturday. And yes, we are sure that she wasn't baptized into another church because 1- her parents are sealed in the temple, 2- every member knows her and her family, and 3- they remember the baptism (her dad baptized her). So really the record just didn't get put into the computer.

The zoo was great. It was a lot smaller than Hogle Zoo but it was fun to do something that none of us had done for a long time. One of the pics that I'm sending is titled ´Mecham´s "other" side...´. On the way home from the zoo we actually almost had to hitch-hike. The zoo is a bit in the middle of nowhere and therefore there aren't any taxis that pass by that aren't already full of people. And the one bus that travels on that road doesn't pass often. Well, after waiting for a while, we prayed. About 2 minutes later the bus passed by and picked us up! Talk about immediate answers to prayers!

My ward is Compañia Baja. Honestly we don't know why it's called Baja [low] because another ward nearby is Compañia Alta [high] but in elevation it is a lot lower than ours. The chapel is on the corner of Perú and Las Rosas. I'll send a picture of one of the views from my sector. Oh, I don't know when you are going to send another package but it would be awesome to have some maple syrup. You can find it here but only in one store (the one bought by Walmart) and that store isn't close to our area so we can't go. So ya..... :)

¿Que más......? [What more?] Oh, the English classes are good I guess. We've only had two as of now. We are going to start puting up signs on the street to advertize it so more people start coming. Hopefully it works because a member told us that English classes have never been successful in this ward/area. Ya, we're going to change that.

Creo que eso es todo por esta semana. [I think that's all for this week] Not much happened. Stake Conference was good and this week we are going to have Zone Conference (I think it's the second to last with Pres Kähnlein) so we are excited for that. And ya....I think that's all.

Love you all!
Elder Groneman
one of the views from my sector

Mecham´s "other" side...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weird Week

So this week was really weird. Some things happened that hadn't happened in my mission until now. Friday was especially weird..... 
So on Wednesday we started teaching English classes. Ya, that was a first. In our ward there are 2 latinos and 2 gringos missionaries (I am one of the gringos - just in case you were in doubt). Well the latinos had the idea of starting English classes as a way to find new people to teach. Haha the thing is that they don't speak English well enough to teach it. So they assigned their comps to teach. Yay for us... Well, the other gringo ended up going on interchanges that day so I was left to teach the class alone. That was fun. We're hoping that every week more and more people come.
Sunday we are going to have another baptism (assuming everything goes well). There are a few weird things about this one. 1 She was already baptized when she was 8 but for some reason her records don't appear when we search for them. When that happens the family just has to gather the dates and everything and fill out another record. Well, the family can't find ANYTHING that proves that she was baptized - not even a photo. 2 We were going to baptize her with her boyfriend the same day. Ya, no. Turns out he was baptized 4 years ago but now doesn't remember ANYTHING. 3 The baptism isn't going to be in our building. It's going to be in the Stake Center (which isn't even in the limits of our zone) because this Sunday is Stake Conference. So she is going to be baptized with 4ish other people from the stake. Ya....weird situation.
Friday. Weird. To start off the day my comp forgets his watch in the pension. He is literally lost without it because he looks at it about every 2 minutes. Next, all during the day there was literally NO ONE in the street. So, we figured that they were all in the houses. We started knocking doors but no one was home either. Weird. Our sector is a ghost town now? The only person we found was a less active lady. When she came out to talk to us her door slammed shut behind her. Oh, btw, Chilean doors ALWAYS need a key to open. They don't have a doorknob like in the USA. Just a keyhole. Well, it turns out that she didn't have her keys with her when she walked out so we were left to try to help her get back into her house. I'm pretty sure we looked like we were robbers trying to break in (well, we actually WERE trying to break in) but it doesn't matter because there was nobody around to see us (Ghost Town, remember). Finally a neighbor came by (where from, we still don't know) and jumped the neighbor's fence, then jumped her backyard fence, then entered through the backdoor to open the front door. So as the day went on there still was literally no one. I'm pretty sure we made 5 loops around our whole area. Then an old lady randomly called us over to her house. Apparently she had just left her house without her keys and before she realized that, she closed the door. Awesome. We knocked her neighbors door because they have a spare key. Nope, not home - of course. We tried to instruct her how to use a card to open the door (Her gate was locked so we couldn't pass through and help her like with the less active). Ya no. That didn't work either. In the end a random teenager walked by that apparently she knew and she asked him to go grab the spare key that was in his house. I'm guessing that this happens often to her if so many people have spare keys to her house. So right when we left that attempt to break into a house the street was FULL of people. We were so excited until I looked at my watch. We were late for our 1st appointment of the day (or night because it was at 8) so we didn't have time to contact everyone. After that cita we went to our other cita which is when we found out about the girl who has to be baptized again. Well as her dad was driving us to our house he almost hits a dog that is pooping in the middle of the street. It didn't move out of the way because it was so focused that it didn't even realize that a giant car was coming towards it. And, to top off the day as we were entering our pension a cat was leaving. What??? We don't own a cat! So ya, that was our weird/crazy day Friday.
So ya. Weird week. Other things happened too but I don't have time right now to write them all because we are in a rush to finish and go to the zoo!
Until next week!
Elder Groneman