Saturday, February 27, 2010


We woke up early Saturday morning in Utah to hear breaking news of a massive earthquake in Chile — measured at 8.8 on the Richter scale!! We spent much of the day glued to CNN and searching the Internet, watching the nonstop news reports and trying to find more details, hoping and praying that all was well. We heard that the main damage was in the Concepcion area, but there were lots of pictures and videos of damage in Santiago. At one point we were watching a video channel from Chile over the Internet, and they showed a shot of a collapsed building in Maipu! Lots of road damage too around Santiago.

We got confirmation about 10:00 that all missionaries in the Chile Santiago West mission had been contacted and were safe. We were very grateful to hear that!

This will be one of the top 10 most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in all of history. Fortunately it was offshore and underwater, so the damage won't be as bad as it might have been closer to the shore. The epicenter was about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, and about 73 miles northeast of Concepcion. By Saturday evening, the death toll was at about 200 but expected to rise much higher.

Some of the significant damage in Chile occurred from tsunami waves that smashed into the coastal areas shortly after the earthquakes. Much of the rest of the day was spent in anticipation of possible additional tsunami damage to Pacific islands, including Hawaii. There were massive evacuations from coastal areas. But by the evening, it appeared the danger had passed. There were tsunami impacts, but only a few feet, and damage was minimal.

During the afternoon. we had two wonderful "confirmations" of Matt's safety. A young member in Santiago "friended" me on Facebook and then told me she had seen Matt today and that he was doing fine. Then later in the afternoon, I was contacted by one of Sarah's friends who had served a mission in Chile. One of his former companions lives in Santiago, and he said he had been chatting with him via computer and realized that Matt was there — he had been spending most of the day at his house! We're guessing the missionaries were instructed to find a safe place to stay indoors while things settled down.

Matt passed on a few things to us through this contact chain. The house they live in was undamaged. Matt and his companion DID wake up and feel the shaking at 3:30 a.m. — "it scared them for a few minutes, but then they were ok. Knowing Matt, he loves adventure though." Power was out for a while, then came back on. Not much damage in their direct neighborhood (though some other areas of Maipu were more impacted).

I found this reference: "In the Maipu neighborhood of the capital, a four-story apartment complex caved into the underground parking lot, crushing the cars. But rescuers managed to pull residents from the rubble." I found the attached photo, which was taken in Maipu and must be that building.

So, at the end of the day - we're relieved and grateful, and very eager for Monday's P-day to come!! We heard of a few missionaries in Chile who either called home or sent brief emails; but we're just grateful to have had the contact we did.

Here are a few more images of the conditions in Santiago. So these were bad enough; the pictures from the coastal areas are much more frightening.

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22 update

We asked Elder Kenison to tell us a little more about the baptism of Yubomir that occurred last week, since it appeared he was the one who performed the baptism. He responded:
Hahaha yeah It was awesome :D haha I actually memorized the prayer when I was in Cartagena. Haha and his middle name was Albert (pronounced in English) so that made it easy haha afterwards was kind of funny. Talking about how he's clean from sin. Haha and then when we left they walked into Lider (a supermarket) haha and Yubomir said. "well bye elders I'm going to commit my first sin" haha it was funny haha but yeah all was good. Kinda hard not to laugh while we were in the font because Yubomir is hilarious.
They recently had a visit to the mission of Elder Carlos Amado of the Seventy.
we had a fireside the other day :D haha it was awesome! Elder Amado came (he spoke in the last conference) haha the fireside lasted for 7 hours haha President Jones and Hermana Jones gave a little talk for about 30-40 minutes each. And the rest was Elder Amado. Haha it was AMAZING! We just asked lots of questions :D haha he ended up teaching us about how we can be active members for our whole life. He said L.O.M.A. - Leer Orar Meditar Asistir. Or (read pray meditate and assist. Assist meaning assist [attend] Church to take the sacrament.)
He also told us that taking the sacrament is not a miniature baptism it is simply a covenent to have the spirit with you. To repent we should pray and repent before hand kinda interesting. Because really the sacrament prayer doesn't say anything about repenting. Just keeping his name to be with us. At least that's what I got out of it.
This is a photo of part of the mission with Elder Amado. Click to see the enlarged version, and then find Elder Kenison!

We learned on Sunday that President MacArthur (see last week) was asked this week to serve in the Antofagasta mission instead of Santiago West. We were a little disappointed, since we had heard such good things about him. So we are not sure who Matt's new president will be in July! I'm sure we'll find out eventually, and I'm sure he'll be great.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15 update

Elder Kenison and Elder Alonzo were blessed this past week to share in a baptism of a young man whom we know as Yubomir. He has been attending Church and participating for some time, including graduating from Seminary; but the local members apparently didn't realize he had never been baptized. He was taught and interviewed, and the baptismal service was held on Sunday. The first photo shows Elder Alonzo, Yubomir's mom (who is a member, we think), Yubomir, and Matt; then just Yubomir and Matt. Though he didn't say so, we're inferring from the dress that Matt must have performed the baptism! (Click on each photo to see larger version.)

Back in December, Matt had told us about a previous baptism, the son of a less-active family. He sent an update today about that situation, which was touching:
Elder Alonzo and I baptized a boy named Alfonso back in December. a friend of his baptized him. because the dad couldn't. At the baptism, the time after the actual baptism, the dad played some hymns on the clarinet. it was really cool. after some time Alfonso entered and his dad said. ''ok and one special hymn'' he played one more hymn. I remember looking over at Alfonso and his mom. The mom was holding her son. the dad apparently looked too because he stopped playing and started to cry. Alfonso walked over and sat next to his dad. his dad finished the hymn and hugged Alfonso. it as an amazing sight to see the Baptism of his son bring this family together.
More to the story was yesterday. Alfonso received the Priesthood. the bishop picked a ward member to help with the ordinance. and then he paused. I saw him look up and nod at someone sitting behind me. After a bit. the dad of Alfonso walked up and put his hands on the head of his son to help with the ordinance. It was an amazing sight. this family, especially the dad, had been inactive for a while. but the son went to ward activities and such. The baptism of Alfonso really brought this family together :D haha it was amazing :D
This past week, the missionaries received an email with information about their new mission president, who will be coming to the mission at the beginning of July. We had learned earlier in the week about the new president — James MacArthur, who is a resident of Orem, just a few miles from our home. We've been pleased to talk to a number of people who know the MacArthurs, and who say they are wonderful people who will be a real blessing to the mission. Sister MacArthur served a mission in Chile, and Brother MacArthur also served a Spanish-speaking mission. So it sounds like they are ready to go! We found out on Sunday that one of their married daughters recently moved into our ward, so we'll enjoy getting to know her better.

Matt has really been blessed to work with President Jones, so we hope this transition will be good for him. Based on all we hear about President MacArthur, we're sure it will be great.

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8 update

During the past week, Elder Kenison and Elder Alonzo have had some better success. Vacations seem to have settled down, so their teaching opportunities have increased. They have a baptism scheduled for this coming Sunday — Yubomir, the young man who has been attending Church and seminary for a long time and was assumed to already be a Church member. Other families are making good progress. Nice to see the work improving!

Matt expressed some feelings about areas where he's seen progress during the first 11 months of his mission:
yeah. spanish is coming GREAT!!! haha and Elder Alonzo is FINALLY showing interest in english. haha so two goals accomphlished. haha but i'm excited for my next year of my mission. because i'll kinda know what i'm doing and i'll just get to work :D WOOT!!!!
He told us about one interesting experience:
so we got asked to give service to a family. i wasn't sure really what it was but we went. haha when we got there i learned that the house of the family had birds living in the attic. SO.... we got to take them out. (us and one of the family members) we found 6 birds (not like the little ones, they were big. like bigger than sete. by alot) also we found 2 eggs and two baby birds. haha it was crazy. haha when we told the hermana (hermana perez) she screemed. she couldn't believe that there were 6 birds living in the attic. it was funny. it took in total about 2 hours. haha
This past week was a week of CELEBRATION. In addition to his missionary work, Elder Kenison managed to squeeze in some important holidays and commemorations.

February 2 is remembered in our family as "Matthew Adoption Day." It was on February 2, 1990, two weeks after Matt was born, that we received the phone call from LDS Social Services (now Family Services) informing us that our adoption application was about to be completed and we were invited to come and meet our son. So this is kind of a "second birthday" to Matt.

To celebrate the day, Matt wrote about the photo below:
this is matthew adoption day. haha we also had a noche de hogar [home evening] so we had a cake (in my hand) that was the cake for my birthday :D and then the cake to the left (my right) that's the cake we gave to Hermana Elizabeth [mother of a family they are teaching]. and then in front to the left No-bake-cookies (or as they say here caca de mono, or monkey poo haha) and last but not least. on the bottom right... brownies :D needless to say at the end of the day elder Alonzo and I both felt sick haha

Quite a celebration! We're glad he enjoyed Matthew Adoption Day. We were all thinking about him and wishing him the best on that day.

The next event was "World Nutella Day" on Friday February 6. Matt loves Nutella, and was glad to celebrate; he came up his own creation:
dia de Nutella. haha this is grapes with nutella. haha they weren't bad. haha

And then third, on Saturday February 7, Matt celebrated "Ice Cream for Breakfast Day" - another holiday (first Saturday in February) which has been a tradition in our family since he was a child.
Helado por desayuno :D WOOT haha
We're not completely sure what this concoction is, but it DOES look tasty:

But those major events were not the only food-related event. He also shared this:
this picture would make dad proud. haha i needed to eat a little this morning before playing futbol. so haha i grabbed an Avacado and some salt haha and my companion took a picture (haha he doesn't like avacado's or as they say here, palta) haha

And one more, also from Nutella Day:
this is me... eating a watermelon haha with a huge spoon. that i actually got to fit in my mouth haha

What a character. We love you, Matt!

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1 update

Elder Kenison has been in Chile for almost nine months. He commented,
it's crazy to think about haha but time flies when you're havin' fun (¿es cierto?) haha
We've decided that Chile must be the vacation capital of the world. Christmas vacation caused some challenges, and now all of their best investigators are gone again.
The hard part is that right now everyone is on summer break. and so everyone is gone. EVERYONE! our attendence in church went from about 70-80 to about upper 40's lowers 50's. haha
So Elder Kenison and Elder Alonzo are doing the best they can, and hoping for better weeks to come!

Meanwhile, it sounds like Matt had fun at the dentist this past week (this photo was from the dentist visit when he was in the MTC, just a few months ago!). Matt was able to get two of his cavities filled, and should have the additional two or three more done this coming week.
About the dentist… haha not much is different… he has MUCH better music. But really the biggest difference is that there is only one chair. Not like 10. but it was really professional. And the numbing didn't stay as long. Haha and the greatest is that the little cotton swab they put in your mouth so you can't feel the shot as much. Haha it was GOOD. Like minty. Not like some fruity fake taste haha kinda crazy :D
Well, that's a cultural experience we weren't expecting to be part of his time in Chile. We sure hope these visits will be enough to last him until he gets back to Utah!!