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.