Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28 update

It was a little strange to email with Elder Kenison today, since we talked to him on the phone only 4 days ago!! We had a wonderful phone call on Christmas Eve. Based on the mission rules, he was only able to talk for 45 minutes. That time went by REALLY fast! But we loved hearing the joy in his voice and feeling his wonderful spirit. The hardest part of the phone call is saying goodbye and hanging up!

He sent us a photo of "Familia Tello Gutierrez this is at dinner chirstmas eve haha it was really good :D"

Not sure if the timestamp on the photo is accurate; 10:18 p.m. is a little late to be having dinner with a member family!

Here was his update of the work as it relates to the Christmas season:
this week has been crazy. i mean CRAZY! haha elder Alonzo and i have been knocking door after door. and no one is home. or if they are... they have family over. it's been kinda hard. one cool experience though. we had one day where we walked and walked and WALKED! NO ONE was home or had time. it was crazy. really we both felt like just going home or to a members house to 'paint monkey' (an expression that means 'to waste time' i don't know why haha) but we kept going.
Elder Alonzo said he was hungry and i was too. so we passed by a completo stand that one of our investigators own. we bought a completo and talked to him for a little. haha he told us that he's reading a book about Joseph Smith (a book from the Church). we were really excited. haha he said he's learned a lot.
After that we passed by for another investigator (actually the daughter of the guy that owns the completo stand.) The daughter, Pamela, invited us in. there was her entire family. her 4 daughter as we walked in I just said to myself "soy un misionero, soy un misionero, soy un misionero" (i'm a missionary i'm a missionary i'm a missionary) haha the dad of the family, Mauricio, was also there. haha then a friend came over. so there were in total... 7 people (6 of which were girls haha) and we taught them all. haha it was awesome! Pamela, the mom, had a LOT of questions. Elder Alonzo answered them and i just added a word or two haha it was good. yesterday we visited them again. this time we watched a movie about Jesus Christ haha it was awesome! :D the only problem is that they have A LOT! of questions. haha but it's been good. :D
It sounds like they have some promising investigators! Matt mentions the "completo" — a Chilean hotdog with lots of toppings. He sent us this photo showing a completo on the left and a variation on the right which has meat and cheese instead of a hotdog:

He mentioned to us that he's hungry a lot, even though they tend to have very large lunches; hard to believe! He also told us on the phone that many of his clothes are getting too tight because of the weight he's gained.

Here's another photo. He commented:
see mom i told you they like bread! haha they actually sell it by the kilo. so the prices you see are per kilo (for more info 1 dollar is about 500 pesos so the 'pan' (bread) here is about 2 dollars a kilo. haha which is actually CHEAP! haha pretty cool haha :D

This message was just a little hint of missing Utah at Christmastime:
Oh yeah i have a favor. Can i get a picture of the Snow haha. I just need something to kinda keep me on the time of year. On christmas day elder Alonzo and i had service. And so at 11 in the morning we were running over to the members house wearing short sleeves and shorts. And i turned to Elder Alonzo and said (only in spanish haha) "today is not Christmas. It's too hot to be Christmas." i just know it'll be the same on new years. Haha well yeah that's about it. Haha thanks :D
And finally, we have to share this photo. It was taken on Wednesday 12/23, when they had a mission "Christmas party" that included some sports activities. Elder Sam Poulsen, our neighbor and Matt's friend for many years, just arrived in the mission a few weeks ago. He's about 7 months behind Matt. We hope they have a chance to work together over the next year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21 update

Gotta start out this week with a photo of a couple of happy missionaries! Elder Kenison and Elder Alonzo seem to be getting along great, and working hard together. (Click on the image to see a larger copy.)

Here's a summary of the week:
we've been working hard trying to find new investigators. haha it's been hard but fun. we found a street in our sector named 'Walt Disney' so we decided to knock every door on the street to find what kind of magic was there. haha we got 5 references and 1 family to teach. hahaha :D so pretty awesome!
We asked if the Christmas season was making things easier or harder for the missionaries.
it's made it a lot easier. We hand out pass-a-longs with a number to get a free DVD of the birth of Jesus Christ. It's been working pretty well. Haha it did on Walt Disney. haha
Here's a photo of the Church building where their ward meets in Maipú:

And here's the family that is featured in the main story of the week:

Here's what Elder Kenison wrote about this family:
Elder Alonzo and I both had our first baptism!!!!!! it was awesome! it had started when we got a call from a member in our ward. she said that her son, Alfonso, wanted to be baptized. when we went to visit we noticed that Alfonzo needed to be taught quite a bit. they wanted him to get baptized before they went on vacation. we told them we weren't sure if he could. when we went back to visit. we learned that Alfonso's parents had been teaching him. when we asked him some questions about lesson 1 he would respond with the perfect answer. haha
After a couple other visits, and talking to our district leader, we felt that Alfonso was ready to be baptized.
the best part was at the baptism, first off Alfonso's dad has been inactive for years. at the baptism he played the clarinet. it was awesome! while he was playing you could see the spirit working on him, in the middle of the song, stopped. and started to cry. Alfono walked over and sat next to him. the dad played the last couple of notes and then him and his son embraced. it was so awesome to see this family who had so many troubles get brought back together and reunited with Alfonso's baptism.
so that was the highlight of our week it was awesome.
Congratulations to Alfonso and his family, and to Elder Kenison and Elder Alonzo!

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14 update

Another week... another companion! Elder Kenison is now comps with Elder Alonzo — he writes:
He's from Ecuador haha he's awesome. The best part is that he speaks really really good spanish. And he's been correcting me a lot. Haha so i've learned a lot :D so hopfully by the end of this change i'll have much better spanish. Haha that is if Elder Alonzo continues to be patient. Haha :D
Here is a photo of the new companionship:

Matt has now had companions from Honduras, Argentina, and Ecuador. He's getting a great introduction to different Latin accents and cultures!

They returned to their assigned area of "4 Poniente" in Maipú and got back to work. They were immediately confronted with a great prospect:
we have a Fetch!!! I mean a bautismal date! Hahaha for this Saturday :D we get a call from a member in our ward. And she said that her son, who is 13, wants to be baptized :D :D :D so we taught him. He's been attending church and mutual for a long time. So he pretty much knew everything. Haha the only problem is that everything happend so fast that we don't really know him. And he'll be leaving on vacation for 2 months next week. So i won't get to see him. Haha but he's an awesome guy. He'll be my first baptism, Elder Alonzo's too :D
We hope things work out for this young man. It's exciting for Matt to see this, but we hope the support will continue after he leaves for vacation.

Sunday was also an unusual day in the Santiago area:
This week was elections so church was earlier. 9 instead of 11 and it was only an hour long (just sacrament meeting) normally the barrio in Los Heroes meets at 10 and we meet at 11. but instead they joined us together. We had 38 people attend church this week — it was horrible. Mostly because lots went to vote and others were just lazy because the church is so far
Here's another classic Matt story. We're glad he's trying hard to improve his Spanish!
Also.... I have a story about learning spanish. :D So the other day i was telling a story about when sam shot a bird on his fence. The word for a little bird is Pajarito. But for the life of me i couldn't remember that word haha so i would say, "y mi amigo con su pistola le disparo un.... aaaaa..." and my companion would say "pajarito" haha then i would say yeah eso. Umm y un otro tiempo un........ my companion said "pajarito" haha again. So while trying to remember this word i remembered "elder kenison if you use it you'll learn it" so i decided to use it but i didn't remember it right so i said, "y mi amigo con su pistola le disparo un cucharita" Elder Alonzo gave me a weird look. Haha i looked at him then thought about what i just said "my friend, with his gun, shot a... little spoon...." hahahaha so for the past couple days whenever a bird flies by Elder Alonzo says "Mire Elder Kenison una Cucharita" haha then he laughs haha it's been funny haha
And then, he made the classic missionary blunder, that many Americans make in Spanish or Portuguese:
Ok i have one more :D Haha so another time i was telling a story about how i was embarrased from something. Haha but instead of saying embarrased (avergonzar) I said Embarazada which means pregnant so i told Elder Alonzo that after... something, i can't remember, I was really pregnant. Haha he laughed and laughed and laughed. Hahaha good times
Matt sure knows how to have a good time! One final photo. Not much description of this one; he just said it was taken in their area on the way home from an appointment:

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7 update

Matt has continued this week to work temporarily with Elder Mawhinney in an area called "El Conquistador" — he said it's about 10 minutes away from his area (by taxi, we assume). They should both be getting new companions on Tuesday or Wednesday. We're excited that Matt's friend, Elder Sam Poulsen, will be leaving the MTC and arriving in the mission this week! We're not sure they will get to see each other right away, but will definitely be together for a Christmas party.

This map shows Santiago. The red dot is the mission office; the blue dot is Matt's area in Maipu; and the green dot is where we believe El Conquistador is. Click for more detail; and note the Andes mountains just to the east of the city.

It sounds like the two missionaries have been working very hard, doing lots of tracting.
we have knocked TONZ of doors. Haha and made cita's to pass by but pretty much everyone has been gone. we've had a good practice on our diligence this week haha it's been CRAZY. We knock like 20 doors and everyone says they're busy. But then we knock one more and we get invited in. and we have an opportunity to teach. Haha we've met TONZ of people! Haha elder MaWhinney said last night that he has SO MANY people to visit and barely any time. Hahaha
They did go briefly back to Matt's area to check on a few things; we know he'll be eager to return there with his new companion and focus on his own investigators. They did have one other fun experience while doing some street contacts:
Yeah one really cool experience. Haha elder MaWhinney and I were walking down the street on Saturday. Haha and we turned the corner and there were about 20 kids all standing in a little park playing. Haha one of them walked up to me and said "hello." (like pretty much every person does). I at the time had a bunch of Laminas de Jesucristo (a direct translation would be slices but just 8X10 pictures of Jesus Christ.) I had about 30. after the kid said hi I gave him a Picture. Haha and wow can you say Pandora's Box hahaha every single one of the kids ran up to us. Haha elder MaWhinney started passing out pass-a-long cards and I kept passing out laminas. Haha then Elder MaWhinney told them all to call the number on the pass-a-long card to get a free DVD BUT they have to ask their parents first. Haha after talking to them for a bit. They asked for our Autograph. Hahaha so elder MaWhinney signed each Lamina "'Los Elderes" hahaha it was hilarious. Haha I wish I had had my camera. Haha
We didn't get any new photos this week, but did want to share one from that past that we received recently. This is classic Matt - his "ear flap" hat and a necktie for a headband, reading and drinking, and with a goofy expression. We love you, Elder Kenison!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1 update

Elder Kenison's email was a day late this week. We waited all day Monday for news, depressed when nothing came. But we finally heard from him on Tuesday. Apparently they had postponed P-day so they could have a zone activity at the city zoo, which is closed on Mondays! We were glad to hear from him.

The main news of the week is that his companion, Elder Bench, was released to go home early due to medical issues. So Matt was temporarily paired with a missionary named Elder Mawhinney who is from Heber, Utah, and whose companion also had to leave for medical concerns:
Elder MaWhinney is… well too say the least, a lot like me. Haha we've both been laughing and having fun. But when we work. We work. Haha we've knocked SO many doors and passed by for SO many contacts. Haha it's kinda crazy because I just moved into his sector/area. So the ward of 4 Poniente doesn't have missionaries right now. But next week i'll probably get a new companion and i'll go back there. So that'll be interesting....
he has 6 more months than me so he'll be going home pretty soon. haha oh one more cool thing. his first sector/area was also Cartagena haha so we've been talking a lot about what's been going on. haha pretty crazy.
There were some great photos today, with Elder Kenison's typical delightful commentary:
this is a picture of district meeting last week. elder Simmons, seen outside of the circle on the left, got pictures. haha and when everyone found out... well... to make a long story short. missionaries just really like pictures haha :D hint... hint... hint... for all my friends haha
so this is elder Mawhinney. we had a air freshener and i was bored and tore off the wrapper. haha and Elder Mawhinney decided to draw a picture on it. haha it's a skull and it was ''Warning, Poison'' haha so now if it ever smells bad we say. ''where's the poison?'' haha
While we were walking along. Elder Mawhinney and I noticed a small (emphasis on small) little house. Haha so, being missionaries, we decided to knock it. (see picture #10) Sadly no one was home ?

Elder Mawhinney and Elder Kenison on the bus, returning from the zoo:

Matt writing email to the family. He said this is probably the "freshest" photo we'll get — taken just minutes before he sent it to us!

Christmas at the zoo:

And in the city — "Haha I took this picture to prove that Chileans love Christmas. Haha"

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23 update

This week brought some sadness for Elder Kenison. His dear grandmother passed away last Tuesday, November 17. We called the mission office to ask them to pass on the news. Matt was very close to this grandmother; they really loved each other, and had a sweet and precious relationship. She would constantly ask about him and his service — "How's my boy?" — and was delighted to hear that he is working hard and progressing in his mission.

The sister in the mission office said that President Jones would call him personally to share the news. This was his report of finding out:
well... i was in my pension when president called. he had been talking to elder bench, he is most likely going home problably the end of THIS week. so elder bench walked in and handed the phone to me. president said that it was never easy news to share but that grandma had passed away. i immediatly started bawling. he then asked me the perfect question. he said, with a voice that i knew he cared, "what was she like?" i told him a little. but when i mentioned the part about grandpa. he said "wow can you imagine that reunion? that would be incredible" it was a nice conversation.
one friday i came to the office with elder bench so he could see the doctor. and Hermana Gonsalez walked up to me and said. "how are you doing?" she told me that she had received the call. it was nice to know that there are people here who care. it's been a hard week i won't lie. but i've had LOTS of help. it's been really hard to take my spirits down this week. which has been an interesting experience. i'm definatly being helped, by more people than just Grandma :)
Meanwhile, the work continues. It sounds like Elder Bench's problem will require him to return a little early and Matt will be getting a new companion. Meanwhile:
well i got the infection that elder bench had. only it wasn't as bad for me because my immune system isn't shot. but we've had another week in our house. we worked quite a bit though. it was hard haha for both of us but we taught a couple of people. and knocked about 400 houses haha no luck though
As for his best investigator now, the Familia Fuentes
they're doing good. they didn't come to church yesterday for some reason :( not good. but they're progressing. the grandmother and grandson said that they both have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. (well Libro de Mormon) so yeah it's good
God bless you, Elder Kenison! Get healthy, and keep working hard! And know that your Grandma is watching out for "her boy"!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16 update

Illness is a scourge of missionary work. It was a challenge this week for Elder Kenison and Elder Bench.
not much has happened this week. Really. Elder Bench has been sick. He has some sort of infection in his Nasal cavity or something. So we've been staying home since Wednesday. We go out to meetings and stuff but we can't do much else. Apparently he HAD the swine flue virus and so his immune system is really bad. So we have to stay inside so it doesn't get worse.
Also because it's been really really hot here and so we've been at home. I've been getting sick with something. Elder bench thinks it's the same thing. The only difference is that my immune system is fine so I should be able to get better quickly. Haha we've been sleeping a lot but always wake up sweating. Haha it's been a pretty crazy week.
In spite of the challengs, Elder Kenison finds the "silver lining":
elder bench is awesome! Haha even though he's been sick we've gotten a lot done. So we'll be studying a lot this next week. So hopefully my Spanish improves.
And he also learned some of the realities of life:
One thing I got to do which made me really really grateful is that since elder bench can't leave, I haven't been able to pass by the Hermana's house who does my laundry (a different Hermana does elder Bench's). so… I washed it by hand. WOW was I tired after. Haha yestterday and today i've been sore haha so i'm really greatful for 1 the Hermana's and 2 washing machines. Haha :D
We'll hope for a better report next week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9 update

Happy Monday - updates and photos from Elder Kenison! The first picture to share shows him with Elder Bench, his new companion as of a few weeks ago. They seem to be getting along great, and working hard in their area. We asked about Carlos, who was their best investigator for a while:
well Carlos... umm he moved. we saw him in the street the other day. smoking a cigarette. so... yeah i hope he accepts it later on :D as for other investigators... we had a family of investigators attend church yesterday :D :D :D haha familia Fuentes. Daniela, Fernando, philipe, and shoot i can't remember. Haha not good. But yeah they attended church. Haha the mom, daniela, loved the fact that she could leave her littlest boy in primary and not worry about him hahaha he has LOTS of energy. Haha but yeah I actually found the family while on divisions with Elder Simmons :D haha woot! So hopefully it all works out.
Some Primary leader may not be terribly enthused about this new little boy overflowing with energy, but we'll hope the Fuentes family continues to make progress! They've also been focusing on the less active members, and seem to be making progress there:
we do visit lots of people for Permaneced (inactives) we taught 12 people last week. Haha and we had... 5 or 6 attend church yesterday maybe more :D
Here's a great description of some of the contact methods they are using:
Well i always carry a book of Mormon and Elder Bench always has 'laminas' like 8X10 pictures of Christ. And if someone is about to shut the door we say 'quiere un gratis lamina de Jesucristo' the word gratis (free) always gets them haha and they'll come and pick one. Then we ask them why they picked that one in specific. My favorite is when they pick the picture of christ in the americas because then i can hold up the Book of Mormon and immediately talk about that :D it's actually been working really well.
Also for using the Book of Mormon we ask someone if they believe in christ and then (when they say yes, because EVERYONE here is catholic) we turn to Mosiah 4:9 "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend." (i actually memorized that one in spanish haha) so then we talk about how the Book of Mormon really is ANOTHER testament of christ :D
Food has apparently become more important to Matt than it used to be; he commented:
Haha i just found out on my mission how much i love food. Haha i eat a lot :D haha the Gonzalez family, if they have extra, just say "give it to elder Kenison he'll eat it" haha
One of his favorite items is something called a "completo" — a Chilean style hotdog with lots of toppings. Matt was craving one of those at home one evening:
I was hungry one night and i wanted a completo the problem was that we didn't have hot dogs. so... thinking of what my dad would do i used what i had. eggs. haha so in this picture i'm eating. Bread, eggs, guacamole, tomatoes, mayonase, ketchup, and mustard. haha it really wasn't that bad haha
Here's a photo of a "real completo" and one of Matt enjoying his own concoction:

Here's one more typical looking picture of Matt — goofing around with one of the sisters, Hermana Maples:

Finally, this classic photo and the story behind it. He told us it would be better to read the story first, then look at the picture for this one!
so i wanted to make Brownies last night. haha so i went into the kitchen and when i went to grab the chocolate mix... and it fell back behind the cupboard/shelve. so i moved the cupboard/shelve thing and grabbed it. and then moved the cupboard/shelve back. little did i know that the bag had a hole in it. so when i grabbed the shelve i got Chocolate Amargo ALL over. haha after laughing for a bit. i walked into my room. Elder bench was on the phone. i said. "elder bench, big favor, can you take a picture" :D haha he looked at me and said "what happened!!!" haha cleaning it off is a different story. right now my suit is at the dry cleaners. haha

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Elder Kenison the Cook

Elder Kenison has had frequent "divisions" with one of his zone leaders, Elder Simmons. They seemed to "hit it off" and have become good friends. The photo shows them cooking pancakes together for a zone activity a while back.

This week, we got an email from Elder Simmons' mother, whom Bonnie made contact with through a "missionary moms" email list.
I just wanted to tell you that your son is an angel! He got brownies for my sons birthday and had the other Zone Leaders sing Happy Birthday to him. that made me happy because he hadn't received our cards or package yet. He tried not to sound to disappointed but I could tell that the brownies helped. Thanks for having such a thoughtful son!
We were very grateful for that little insight, and the compliment about our son. Matt started out making chocolate chip cookies with his dad when he was quite young, and has expanded his skills gradually. We understand he's becoming quite well-known in Chile for his brownies made from scratch!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2 update

Elder Kenison's new companion in Maipú is Elder Bench, from Ogden. According to this week's email,
he's an awesome elder. Sadly though i won't we able to send a picture. We're doing p-days a little different so... yeah i kinda don't have my stuff. Sorry. He was in the coast with me. (he was my zone leader) he's a really tall guy. Haha so you can check the pictures from that. I think i sent on of our zone where he has a hat on.
So we're guessing Elder Bench is the one standing in the back of this picture with a white t-shirt and a baseball cap (click on photo to enlarge):

We'll hope to get a better photo soon! Matt is eager to work with Elder Bench; he has commented that he really seems to want to work hard, which Matt loves. They are making sure to have good, positive interaction with the members. Elder Bench has only 2 1/2 months left on his mission - "So there is a chance that i'm his last companion haha."

They apparently celebrate Halloween in Chile in a similar fashion to the American custom. Matt noted one related experience:
Funny experiences haha well on halloween some lady yelled in spanish "hey look. Twins!" and she pointed at us. Haha elder bench and i laughed haha it was cool. We traded plaques for a little bit. But then thought about it and traded back. Haha
One final note. We asked if he thought he was gaining or losing weight.
I'm pretty sure i'm gaining weight. Haha and the beginning of last change i weighed myself. I was 75kilos. I don't know if that's more or less than 150 pounds. Haha but i know i'm a little bigger now haha.
Of course, 75 kilos is 165 pounds — so it sounds like Elder Kenison is putting on some bulk! That Chilean food must really agree with him.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26 update

Changes, changes. After only 6 weeks with Elder Urbieta in Maipú, Elder Kenison is getting a new companion this week (tomorrow). So today is spent helping pack and prepare. He hopes he's ready to introduce the area to a new senior companion! Elder Urbieta was sick during the past week, which has also been a challenge for the work.

The ward in Maipú where Matt is serving (4 Poniento ) is smaller than he's used to, even by Chile standards. There are rarely more than a hundred people in attendance, and only 68 last week. Matt is hoping to "rejuvenate" the area with his new companion.

Here was a fun story that occurred this past week:
well i was on divisions with elder Simmons. We stopped by a families house... familia Gonzalez/Gallardo the last name of the husband is Gonzalez and the wives name is Gallardo. a while back they were like parents of missionaries here in chile. like cooked for them cleaned for them everything. when they showed me pictures i recognized one of them. they kept saying John this John that. They had called him Little John haha and it was... Daniel Melville. hahaha I laughed so hard. sure enough I turned the picture over and it had his name and address written on there. haha they said that they haven't heard from him in a LONG time. haha when i told them he was married they went crazy. haha they said "little John is married?!?! and has kids" (only they said it in spanish). I kept thinking of John Melville the entire time haha it was funny. I would've taken a picture but i didn't have my camera. haha
Daniel Melville grew up just around the corner from us, and was on a mission in Santiago probably 7 or 8 years ago. He's a very large young man (probably at least 6'8") so would have been gigantic to the Chileans. How fun for Matt to have that connection appear.

On P-days, Matt really enjoys playing "bebe" — a kind of soccer played on a cement court. This photo was taken just before he left his last area (Cartagena). This week, in response to a question about how he spends his p-days, he wrote:
we play Bebe every monday :D it's awesome! i play goalie all of the time haha mostly because bebe is played on a hard surface, like cement, and so all the latins do the little rolls and crazy stuff. and i'm not to great at that. haha so i just chill in the back. haha
Sounds like an interesting event, though we're sure "doing rolls and crazy stuff" on cement can be especially interesting!

He ended his letter with this:
oh one scripture :D Moroni 8:3 says "I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end." I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19 update

The "Elders of Maipú" (Elder Kenison and Elder Urbieta) are having some pretty typical experiences in their work lately.
Lots of people are gone when we pass by. We're really trying to work with the ward (it is REALLY struggling.) so hopefully it gets better quickly
Their best investigator, a man named Carlos, wants to be baptized; but this week:
he's doing good i think. Haha he hasn't been home. We've passed by a lot but i think he just got a job so he's been at that. We're glad he got a job but we want to visit him haha
We learned that there are slightly more "gringos" (Americans) in the mission than Latinos, but it seems the Latin proportion is rising. That's great to hear.

The activity of the week was apparently some entertainment with the local members:
we had a stake talent show that we all got to participate in that was interesting. Haha we did an acting thing. We split into two groups and we had a little "skit" about a kid getting stung by a bee and then going to his mom crying. And then his mom going to the doctor. Both groups took turns trying to act out a scene that the "director" would like. And once we got one. The camera man, who had tried to tell the director several times, said that he didn't have film. Haha it was funny. We tried the story, opera style, gangster style and ninja style. Haha it made everyone laugh.
We would have loved to see Elder Kenison "hamming it up" in that kind of setting! He did share this one photo, which he said came from a ward-level talent show preceding the stake show, which the Elders didn't have time to participate in:

And finally, a typical Matt "sunset photo" (his two greatest photographic loves are sunsets and waterfalls):

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12 update

We had another wonderful letter from Elder Kenison today. He is well and happy and doing great in Maipu. We were especially thrilled to get a whole series of new photos from him! These are the first pictures since he was transferred four weeks ago. It is always SO good to see his happy face, as well as read about the progress they are making.

Matt was not in Maipu this past Sunday (he was "on divisions" working in another area) but reported there were seven investigators in Church. Comments about one of them:
we are teaching a guy named Carlos haha he's cool. He's been listening to the missionaries for a while. Haha he's really cool. He actually said the other day (when i was on divisions with elder simons) that he wants to get baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so happy haha i barely know him but he's a cool guy. Lots of his family are members so he'll have good support haha pretty cool.
He had an interesting experience tracting with Elder Marquez on divisions. This occurred the day after they had changed to daylight savings time, losing an hour of sleep — he said they were exhausted, ready to quit early. But they persisted, visiting a member who was struggling a little. During the course of the conversation, they realized that this sister had concerns about the Word of Wisdom. Matt remembered that he had been impressed to put a pamphlet on that topic in his backpack that morning — something he rarely does. It turned out to be a real blessing to have that discussion with someone who needed it, and Matt felt inspiration in several aspects of what happened.

So now for some photos (click on any photo to view enlargement). These first two show Elder Kenison and his companion Elder Urbieta, who is from Argentina; they seem to be quite happy together:

There were a lot of food-themed photos in this batch. This is Matt with a plate full of food at a ward party; he commented, the black blob at the top was the only thing that i've had in chile that made me really want to throw up haha the rest was good. oh and my companion was... really happy haha. The second photo shows divisions with Elder Maldanado. haha eating toast haha

They enjoy their zone activities on p-day. Here they are, eating together in a Chinese restaurant:

Here's a shot of Matt having lunch with Elder Simmons (on divisions) and with two sister missionaries from their zone:

Finally, a photo with a story all its own.
these elders and i were sitting here waiting for our visa and then i noticed the white paper behind them. haha (translation... please do not sit in front of this door.) when i saw that i laughed and (being a kenison :D) took a picture haha

One very tender segment of his letter came when he was offering advice to a friend who will soon enter the MTC in Provo:
1. DO NOT TAKE THE MTC FOR GRANTED! You can save yourself SO much stress in the field if you just get it done there. Especially the language. Haha and also 2. hug your mom 1 more time before you leave. Just 1. and tell her you love her. Really i just ran off... "wow what's next" that right there is one of my biggest regrets. Just PLEASE before you walk around that wall and out the door MAKE SURE your mom knows you love her. Then after that devote every second to trying to learn something.
You can imagine how that #2 melted his mother's heart! He's a sweet boy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5 update

The weekly email arrived early this week — a little after 9:00 a.m. Thanks to the blessing of modern technology, Bonnie was able to read the incoming message on my Blackberry while we were driving to Salt Lake to attend the wedding of a friend. Matt had us both in tears with some of the things he shared. We sure do love this missionary!

A great highlight of the week was General Conference. It looks like they were able to participate in all the sessions. We worried that it would be challenging to get as much out of the messages in the Spanish translation, but he reports:
they actually had a seperate room for the "gringos" haha so i got to hear it in english. so that was really nice.
We asked if they were able to get any investigators to come to the conference broadcasts:
yeah we had several 7 to be exact. haha the most since i've been here. it was good though they loved it. haha :D
And we asked if he wanted a CD with Conference talks to listen to. This was his response (spoken like a true missionary who also loves the Book of Mormon):
i wouldn't mind have a CD. haha mosly so i could listen to Elder Hollands talk over and over and over. if you didn't hear that one you NEED to look it up. and reading it... won't be the same. it was really good. about the Book of Mormon :D
Matt has adapted well to the new area. It's more prosperous, compared to his first area — "the people here are a lot better off. i mean A LOT better off." He noticed that they eat more meat in their meals and never any fish. We hope the people are still eager to learn in spite of that relative prosperity, but based on the attendance at the conference sessions, they are making good progress.

Finally, on a personal note. I had written to Matt earlier how I missed being with him at the General Priesthood broadcast. Our tradition for seven years had been to sit together (on the stand, based on my current assignment) then hurry out afterwards for an ice cream. I wrote to him: "I was terribly lonely sitting by myself in General Priesthood meeting. I was hoping you were able to attend in Chile, and tried during the meeting to imagine you sitting somewhere in Maipu or Santiago and listening to the talks. Elder Ballard talked about fathers and sons and how they can help each other and be close; it brought back lots of good memories of doing things together." Matt wrote this, which touched my heart:
i was also in there for the Priesthood session. haha i turned to the elder next to me and said, "my dad is sitting all alone in conference." afterwards while going home i passed a little store and bought ice cream haha my companion and i ate it with brownies. haha :D but yeah i missed you too dad. elder ballards talk just about killed me haha afterwards i said "i miss my dad!" haha some of the elders laughed haha.
We sure love you, Elder Kenison!! haha God bless you. Keep working hard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28 update

We learned a little more about Elder Kenison's new assignment in Maipú today, but didn't get any new photos; the computers he has used the past two weeks seem to have some issues, and he hopes to try a different one next week.

However, I was able to find this photo of his current missionary residence, with the help of Google Satellite View — right in the middle of a dense urban area:

And here's the "big picture" showing Maipú on the southwest outskirts of Santiago, and the towering southern Andes to the east:

Matt's companion, Elder Urbieta, is a district leader. They had "divisions" with the zone leaders this week, and Matt enjoyed working with Elder Simmons from Bountiful for two days — "he's a really cool elder." If that weren't enough:
then on Sunday we had special divisions (there was some problem in our ward) so i was with him yet again. it was pretty cool. he taught me a lot of spanish. and "leading the sector", as they call it, helped me learn more about our sector. haha I know one of the Main streets is 4 poniente and another is Renee Olivares and I can get home if I'm on 4 poniente haha a lot better than it was. now i'm trying to pay more attention so that I can learn all of the other streets. haha
Then this important experience from today's p-day activity (very typical of Matt):
Also (a cool story and along with a favor), the story is that elder Urbieta and I help the Zone Leaders a lot. and we helped them today with an activity. we made pancakes for our entire zone. haha it was awesome. LUCKILY (and this is where the favor comes in) I had a recipe for pancakes haha so that's my favor can you tell Ale THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!! :D
In his efforts to improve his Spanish, Elder Kenison learned this very important word:
("Permiso" is an ingenious word that doesn't exist in english. if you're ever unsure about something you just say "permiso" and you do it. and whoever you said permiso to watches you to make sure it's ok. we say it everytime we go into houses and really whenever we do anything. it's like saying "excuse me". haha)
The work in the "4 Poniento"ward is a little slow right now. Elder Kenison and his companion(s) did a lot of contacting and have many follow-ups for the coming week. We'll hope and pray for some good results!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22 update (a day late)

We were SOOO eager to get Elder Kenison's weekly update on Monday, so we could find out about his new area and companion! We waited ALL DAY for it to come; as the afternoon wore on and we passed the normal P-day hour, we were very disappointed. Something must have happened to prevent him from sending an email! We tried to imagine what that was, but nothing made us feel better. We assumed we were destined to wait another week to find details! (We realize are terribly spoiled by this instant communication nowadays.)

Then suddenly, late on Tuesday (a day late), the emails started to arrive! We were thrilled to get some news. Apparently his companion had talked with the "computer place" (was assume that means Internet Cafe) in the area (owned by a Church member) and found their computers were having issues on Monday, so they were able to postpone that part of their P-day until Tuesday.

So here's the news! Elder Kenison is now serving in Maipú, a suburb of Santiago at the southwest corner of the metro area (click on the map at the right to see more details of location). Matt's comment on the name of the city, in typical missionary humor:
(pronounced... "my poo" some great jokes from the name haha)
The urban setting is quite a contrast from his last area, which was out on the coast:
it's way different its more of a city than Cartagena. LOTS of busses and taxis haha it's been crazy trying to find my way around. my companions been helping though haha luckily. :D
About his new companion:
he's from Argentina. a latin haha Elder Urbieta. he's really cool. he's been out for 10 months. he's the district leader. he's a really... tranquilo (chill) individuale. he's really good at 'bebe' too haha
I'm guessing "bebe" might be a nickname for "basketball"? He mentioned the term once before, saying they were going to the Church on p-day to play bebe with some of the young men. [UPDATE: I have been informed by Spencer Mecham, Matt's first companion, that "bebe is actually a soccer game that is only different because the ball is heavier. Thus it can't be hit high easily and most of the game is played on the ground level."]

Part of the complication of the week included the Chilean Independence Day celebrations (Sept 18), and getting settled into the new apartment. It's smaller than his last place, with not much shelf or storage space for food and supplies. Matt mentioned that he brought his flour and sugar and everything to make brownies from the old apartment — some of the essential supplies! We're not sure how he fit all of that into his suitcases...

There were 66 people attending the ward on Sunday in Maipú — quite a bit fewer than in Cartagena. He said there was a recent baptism in the area, so we hope there is some good enthusiasm!

We were sad to not receive photos again, but we're at least thrilled to know "all is well" and Elder Kenison continues to love his mission!

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14 update: Transfer!

Has Elder Kenison gone to the dogs??? These photos might make you wonder; he said there are LOTS of stray dogs around, and most of them are quite friendly to the missionaries. He labeled the one on the left "haha-a-local-dog-who-greets-us-every-morning-haha.jpg" and the one on the right "Beethoven!!! haha our friend down the street haha he loves the missionaries.jpg":

Actually, we don't think he has "gone to the dogs," but we're not sure WHERE he has gone. We learned Monday morning that he is being transferred!

As we understand it, the process for "changes" (they don't use the word "transfer") in his mission is this: Matt will pack up and say goodbye today. Early Tuesday morning he'll get on a bus and head in to the mission office:
We take a bus to Santiago then we wait with all the missionaries that are being changed. (while some elders put up the papers of the changes) and then when President Jones finishes talking to us real quick everyone runs over to the paper. then i'll (depending on where my next sector is) take a micro (bus) or collectivo (taxi). they actually have a bus called a Pullman Bus here that's like a five star bus for long distances. it's really the only option to get from here to Santiago. haha pretty cool
Since this occurs on the day AFTER p-day, we won't know where Matt is until we hear from him next Monday. We'll just hope and pray for the best! Matt was apprehensive last week about this coming:
it's going to be hard if i leave Cartagena. i love the people here so much. haha :D
Today he wrote:
i'm a little nervous but excited! haha
The change will be good for him. We'll hope and pray his new companion is a blessing to him, like his first two have been!

One of the challenges of a transfer is leaving behind the people you've been working with — entrusting them to the care of other missionaries. Matt has several people close to baptism right now. He wrote this about the Familia Godoy and others he cares about:
they're doing good though. they're attending church every week (more then the rest of their family who actually are all members.) they're doing great though. apparently there are divorce paper issues. the dad was married before. we have a lot of those. Marcela's boyfriend. Carla and Mauricio. Famila Godoy. so many people! i want to become a lawyer here just so I can help some people who want to fix their lives! haha crazy
Well, we hope this week goes by quickly so we can get an update next week!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7 update

As of this coming Friday, Elder Kenison will have completed a fourth of his mission — six months down, eighteen to go! Time seems to be going by quickly for us. We think it is for Matt too.

Apparently it's been a wet week in Chile. Matt's gotten over his bronchitis, but his companion, Elder Mejia, has been sick this week. And the extra rains brought their own challenges:
my week..... haha well this week has really been interesting. it's been hard because it's been raining a lot. i mean. A LOT. and so there has also been lots of mud. haha and added on that we have one of the hilliest (that is so a word. along with Frailed haha) we just have a very hilly area. so it's been a fun challenge trying to walk up all these "dirt" hills. haha.
We were pleased to hear there has been some more progress with investigators:
Natalia and Olga are progressing. Natalia said that she wants to be baptized haha she hasn't even attended church haha. Marcela is... well being stubborn. haha i mean she knows just as much as a member of the church (except for what it feels like to be baptized. haha) and she just doesn't want to stop seeing her boyfriend. which is a problem because he's married. haha kinda crazy
on another note Familia Godoy is progressing great. they should be getting married soon and then afterwards baptized i hope it all works out. haha
This was a cute story about a Sunday testimony meeting:
oh sunday was cool. all of us missionaries bore our testimony. haha it was funny, everyone stared at me when i got up. haha "he barely knows spanish" haha i made everyone laugh though because i kept messing up it was funny. luckily my companion went afterwards to bring the spirit back haha. also one of the investigators of Elder Rawlins and Elder Romero bore his testimony. i got a little of what he said but not a lot. haha
more.... haha i don't know. it's been fun. it's going to be hard if i leave Cartagena. i love the people here so much. haha :D
The photos of the day came from a zone activity on the beach. We're not sure where this took place (near his area, or somewhere up north??), but it looks like they had a great time, as always. In the first, Matt is with Elder Somoza, a missionary he seems to really enjoy being with:

This one was labeled "The missionaries of the coast!"

Finally, this little extra note and photo that went just to Mom. They had the desired result of choking her up big time:
so everyone was doing this with their girlfriends name haha well I don't have a girlfriend but i do have someone waiting for me. haha My mom (aka you) so I decided to do the same but with someone more important :D thanks for everything mom you're the greatest. :D