Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15 - HOME AT LAST!!

There is no thrill quite like the thrill of welcoming home a missionary as he returns from faithful service.  The anticipation builds as you wait in the airport terminal (we had "Flat Matt" with us, wearing a sign that said "Coming Soon in 3D").

You join other missionary families, and see their excitement and joy as their son comes down the escalator, and you impatiently wait your turn.  Then, FINALLY, you see him!  His face is glowing with joy and eagerness, and you wish the escalator would move faster.  Mom breaks away to get the first hug.  But there are enough to go around - the hugs are sweet and the tears are plentiful.

Sarah had a fun announcement for her brother.  He caught on pretty quickly!


Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14 update

SURPRISE - one more mission update! Elder Kenison will be spending most of today in the mission office for final meetings and interviews before getting on a plane late this evening, headed for Atlanta and then SLC. But he did get online briefly to check email and send this brief message:
Dad, thanks for the letter. I got on just for a second to tell everyone hi and that I'm excited to see ya. But most of all to say, Dad we HAVE to come back to Chile and visit. As much as I want to go home and see "ya'll" (as mom would probably say as of now haha) I wouldn't mind staying a little longer. I'll miss the people here and I'm sad to say that I didn't have enough time to visit near all of the people I wanted to visit. But it's all good. I hope all is well with the fam. Thanks for everything :D I LOVE YOU!!! See you soon :D

-Elder Kenison
We're grateful to hear that he loves his mission, the people, and the experience.  But that he's also eager to see us!  The mention of mom in that message relates to the fact that her mother (Matt's grandmother) is here now, and when Bonnie gets around her mother, the "southern accent" appears in full force!

Meanwhile, we were pleased (and a little concerned) to read an update from Elder Kenison's last companion, Elder Rubert.  He wrote:
The only bad thing was that E' Kenison got really sick. Stomach cramps and worse.  (we got him some good drugs and he got a little better by the end) but regardless of that he still forced himself to get out of the house and go to our citas and teach. Way good elder.
Later in the message he mentions the doctor said he was sick because he was dehydrated, but we're wondering maybe if it was the other way around?  But that forced them to stay indoors a little more, and Elder Rubert worked on cleaning and painting while Elder Kenison rested.

There was also this wonderful tribute:
Well my experience with E' Kenison taught me a few things. 1- i dont have to be a robot to be an obedient missionary so in other words just be yourself within the boundaries 2- Chilean culture (the dichos, the mate, the insence) all are very much chilean and make me feel like a bit of a hippi but hey its all good 3- Enjoy where you are, and what you are doing because you wont be able to do it again. 4- how to make "as close as an elder can safely get to sex cake" (better than sex cake) and 5-if its broken...fix it. and do it right.

Actually this morning and last night he was packing but kept on saying that he really just didnt want to leave chile and that was good to see an elder who loved his mission. THANKS E' KENISON (and good luck with your frosty orchata)
That warmed our hearts!  And so did these two photos — the first appears to be the famous cake, and the second Elder Kenison and Elder Rubert:

This was also a nice view of Santiago:


Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7 update

Well, the day has come.  Our email again today was pretty brief, but sweet; and may likely be the last email we receive from Chile!  Elder Kenison will finish his service a week from today and get on the plane Monday evening.  He doesn't expect to be able to write us next week, so if we do get a letter, it will be a surprise bonus.  WOW — hard to imagine that this wonderful phase of our lives is coming to an end!

Elder Kenison is really enjoying his final companion, Elder Rubert.  We asked him to tell us about him:
One word.. "¡trabajador!" haha He's a good missionary, he's workin hard so I don't get trunky haha
Elder Rubert reported a little more detail in his letter home to his family. We're grateful they shared it with us!
well my comp is freaking awesome. The first thing he said when he got to the pension was look around and say something to the effect of, we got to get this pension listo (in shape) for your next comp so that you can get some really good work done, and also we need to get the ball of baptism rolling for next change.
He got in and worked right away. (cool) but more than that he is soooo chill.... He also introduced me into mate...Which is AWESOME and ridiculously delicious.
the one problem is that we talk and chat a little bit too much so we are in bed on time but we don't sleep (i suppose there are worse things) but we tore up the moldy walls and we are going to paint the whole pension...
We also cleaned the whole house and got rid of all of the junk that was left around the pension. All in all things are going really well. I told him he was my favorite companion...  :)
That's an impressive description.  We hope the desire to clean and work doesn't get lost on the plane home from Chile!!

He's had a hard time getting immersed into the area for such a short time.  This was the report on investigators and the progress of the work this past week:
Just visiting tons of people! haha I can't keep everyone straight so I just memorize the names before the appointment and then forget them after haha. kinda crazy.
We just hope Elder Rubert is keeping them all straight!  It sounds like they have a couple of investigators who are close to baptism, but that will happen after Matt leaves.

We joked in our email that we might have time to send one more package to him if we hurry, and asked if there was anything he needs.  He responded:
Yeah. A girlfriend would be nice :).
Aha!  So there IS a sign of being trunky!!  But he's not letting it slow down his service.  We're very grateful for that.

We were glad to get a few photos of some recent visits and companions. We just wish he had sent one of his current companion and area!  This shows his last zone:
This photo includes Elder Cevallos, Elder Smith, and Elder Kearsley:
This is Elder Leavitt, who he's encountered a number of times during his mission and enjoyed getting to know:
And finally, Elder Dallon Smith, who said some nice things about Matt last week:
It's STUNNING to look at these photos and then realize that we'll be seeing Matt in person in JUST EIGHT DAYS!!


We love you, Elder Kenison, and can't wait to give you UN ABRAZO GRANDE!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3 bonus comments

When Elder Kenison wrote us on Monday, he had just met his new companion and didn't know much about him.  However, we've since learned a little more on our own (thanks to Dorothy Hassler, mother of one of Matt's former companions!).

His name is Elder Corbett Rubert.  He has served for a little over 4 months (2 months in Chile).  He wrote this about his new companion (note he got the spelling of the name wrong, just like Elder Kenison did (he wrote Elder Rupert)):
His name is Elder Kineson, way nice, and has two weeks left for his mission... which means i get to go and see his other sectors too (and he served in the coast WOOT) Pres. King assured me that he is not trunky. :) well we will see how it goes. He is from Orem UT, and not freakishly tall. well that is about it for him i will update when i know more about him...
but because of his leaving, this is technically his last real p-day, because next p-day we visit his sectors (woot) and then for real changes in two weeks i will get a permanent comp. so yeah that is it for that. ),

In addition, this nice comment appeared on Elder Dallon Smith's blog:

"I went to Santiago again this week...  I got to also hang out with Elders Smith, Kenison, and Van Dyke.  We did an activity where all the missionaries worked in one sector.  It was so fun and I got to know the other missionaries really well....
"Elder Kenison was absolutely hilarious!  I am sad that he is going home.  It would have been cool to get to know him better."
Sorry, Elder Smith — his family back home is even more eager to get to know him (the NEW him) better!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28 update

Another week, another companion, another transfer to another area, another very brief letter... and time is running out fast!

Elder Kenison is now serving in Cerrillos in Santiago, in the sector Amerigo Vespucio.  When he wrote us today, he had just met his new (final?) companion, Elder Rupert.  We don't know a thing about him!  We only know that the new area is near Maipú (where Matt served for his second area and where the mission home now is).  Matt said he'd fill us in with more detail next week.

So we're hoping he'll have a good, steady week of working hard in this new area with Elder Rupert.  On P-day next Monday, he'll have the opportunity to return to Cartagena, his first area, to visit members there.  He did promise to find time to write us!  We look forward to that.

In our stake office back home, we have a photo board where all the missionaries serving from our stake are listed.  This part shows all the elders; there is another section for sisters and couples:

New missionaries start on the bottom row, and gradually work their way up to the top as they serve their two years.  So parents and family members are always eager to come in to the office and find where their son is now!  Well, as of this past weekend, Elder Kenison reached the coveted "#1 position" on the top row left, much to the delight of his family:

The "best two years" are almost over. We have two weeks of mission left.  Feelings are very bittersweet.  We can't wait to have our son return to us, but we also are going to dearly miss the joy of his service and the anticipation of our Monday communication.


Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21 update

Elder Kenison has been in a threesome this past week (or a "trio" as he calls it), working with Elder Smith and Elder Van Dyke.  We learned about Elder Smith last week; this is what he wrote about Elder Van Dyke:
He's from  Kaysville in Utah, he has the same time as Elder Hassler, they were in the same district. Well he's... chill haha We always talk about hiking and stuff. It's pretty cool.
So he's pretty new in the mission, but it sounds like he's fitting right in!  This was Matt's description of working in a threesome:
The first lesson we had we all testified of each topic while teaching the lesson, so it took FOREVER. We only finished two principles, faith and repentance. It was interesting so we're decided that one should teach the doctrine then the other testify and then keep going and not add his thoughts like before haha it's been a lot better.
Report on activities during this week:
We've been working with a lot of less actives. We had 19 lessons last week just with less active and recent converts. So i don't really know a lot of the names but we've just been trying to teach as many people as possible
Sounds like some very worthwhile efforts.  As for Matt's future, he expects to be moving this coming Thursday or Friday to a new area.  Here's the speculation:
Yeah. Just close to here. I'll probably replace Elder Romero, he's in Santa Lucia right now with Elder Fuhriman a gringo from Oregon. So I'll probably go there.
That would give him a little over two weeks in the final area.

One other positive report for the week:
Yesterday we had a stake conference and it was broadcast from Salt Lake. Elder Packer and Cristofferson spoke. It was AWESOME!!! They just reminded us of the things that President Monson said about youth serving a mission and also couples serving. and Sister Dalton also spoke she talked about being prepared and worthy in all times in all things and in all places. It was pretty sweet! haha
Here are two photos for the week.  The first shows
Just a picture of Elder Smith and the Metro. Pretty sweet. haha By the way the blur was planned. haha

And this one said,
just trying to get a ride.... no luck haha


Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14 update

We had a pretty brief letter from Elder Kenison today.  With only four more weeks to go, his P-days are probably going to get busy!  The only mention of progress in their missionary activities was that their best investigator is the young daughter of a ward member who is making good progress.

We tried to clarify what the next few weeks hold.  We had heard that his companion, Elder Smith, would be going home three weeks early because of school.  But Elder Speakman, one of the other elders living in their 4-person apartment, will be going to the office this week.  So Elder Smith and Elder Kenison will be working in a trio with Elder Van Dyke.  But then it gets even more confusing:
Then in two weeks some elders go home early to study. So I'll have special changes and I'll be heading out to a different area. So in my last change I'll have a total of three different companions and two sectors. haha
So this will indeed be interesting — talk about a mixed-up way to finish!

We asked if they had any special zone or district activities recently.
We had an activity today in the apartment of one of the other elders. We chilled up on the room though! On the 26th floor!!! haha It was awesome! They had a pool up there too but... we can't go in. haha But I decided that I want to own a hotel someday and have a pool on top and my house right next to it haha. 
Dream on, buddy!  Here are some photos from that apartment; pretty spectacular with the Andes in the background:

This was a fun photo; he wrote,
On Saturday we had an activity and played soccer with the young men in our ward. No one came haha but we took advantage and fixed some on the nets. haha service!!!

And then this was the best:
Just chillin on the swings haha Elder Speakman is on the left and Elder Smith on the right.


Monday, February 7, 2011

February 7 update

The week after a transfer is always suspenseful until the next Monday, when we find out the news.  So we were happy to learn that Elder Kenison will finish his mission in an area called Carlos Valdovino, in the Republica area of Santiago.  It's apparently pretty far downtown (see map in the right column of this blog), but seems to be a nice residential district.  Here's a photo he sent of the area — he said it's from a different elder's pension. but i guess you get the idea. haha (Click any photo to view larger...)

Here are three photos from "Google Earth" that show the location in the city (way downtown), the general neighborhood, and the approximate location of the elders' apartment (near the corner of Mozart and Haydn streets):

Elder Kenison's new companion is Elder Smith, from Rocklin, California (near Sacramento).
When President said that this should be an interesting change I think he said that because Elder Smith is from my same group. So we BOTH go home this change. So I don't know what happens to the area. The area though, Carlos Valdovino, has four elders. We also live with Elder Speakman (from Kansas) and Elder Van Dyke (from Utah, who is from Elder Hassler's group) so we think that Elder Smith and I will leave and the area will just be left with two elders.
Here are the two new comps:

We heard from another source (from Elder Hassler via his mother) that Elder Smith might be going home three weeks early; in that case, Matt might either get a new companion or be left in a threesome for the final three weeks.

In spite of the sadness of leaving Elder Hassler behind in Talagante, Matt seems quite excited about his new area.  We asked about the church building and the ward, and he responded:
Bigger than my other sectors though. there were about 76 yesterday. and the ward is AWESOME!!!
Really friendly, the bishop was called about 3 weeks ago so he has that "new bishop fire" it's awesome!!! He'll be coming with us this week to work with us all day :D He's awesome! The other leaders are too! :D
That's encouraging; having support and enthusiasm from local leaders can make a tremendous difference!  Elder Smith has been in the area for one change, and this is the status of their current investigators:
yeah there are some good ones, and we're finding some news. Yesterday we knocked a door of the house of a guy that Elder Smith and his last companion contacted, and the wife came out and said "Hey! we've been waiting for you" haha Her husband was sleeping but we have a time to pass by for them today. Hopefully it all works out.
Matt also sent us about a dozen photos of families and individuals from Talagante that he appreciated.  Here are a few, with his captions:
President Reyes and his wife. what a stud.

FAMILIA ESPINA haha I love this family the little boy's name is Mateo (Matthew) and he was always walking around and yelling at church. They would always make the joke when he would do something crazy "wow, all Matthews are the same." Referring to me of course

Familia Rojas. This is the family I had lunch with for my birthday. Hna Betty, the mom, is the music director for the branch, and Valentina who is only 18, is the Primary president. haha an awesome family :D

Marlene and Antonio. The ones who wrote me on facebook haha We passed by for their "store" (almacen) a lot because they have really good bread and stuff haha I would visit Talagante just to go to their almacen haha

Familia Muñoz. haha I love this family. This is the family that gave us the crazy food. (because we asked for it of course haha) they're awesome!

Simon. He's the only one in the young men's group in our branch. He came with us a bunch to teach people and gave us some references. He's going to be an AWESOME missionary! We traded ties when I left. :D

After today, we now realize that...

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31 update

We had a very short letter from Elder Kenison today, and soon discovered why:
Me voy! :( chuuuuta jaja. yeah I've got changes. It'll be interesting. President sent me an e-mail that said that "it should be an interesting change." I don't know what to think about that. haha I'm kind of nervous.
"I've got changes" in current lingo means "I'm being transferred" for us old timers.  So Elder Kenison will spend the last change (6-week period) of his mission in a mysterious new assignment.  We don't quite know what to make of the President's comment either!  And unfortunately, we won't find out the details until NEXT Monday!  So we'll have to be patient this week.

A further comment on his feelings about the change:
meh. Glad... sad... in the middle. I just want to stick with Elder Hassler for a change more. He's such a stud. haha He's like my brother. Definitaly someone I'll remember.
We're happy they've had such a good relationship for the past 12 weeks.  It was unfortunate that part of that time was spent taking turns being sick. But we hope their good friendship will be able to resume after the mission.

Meanwhile, updates on the work:  the appointment with Familia Salinas mentioned last week (to teach the Plan of Salvation lesson) won't take place until this Tuesday, so Matt will have to pass that one on to Elder Hassler.  And in other news:
We're working with a reference [referral] that we got from a member (the President's brother) and we've been teaching Jaqualin (no idea how to spell her name. haha) but she's been progressing really well
We assume that's the branch president's family member — should be a good opportunity!

We also asked him to review a typical morning schedule.
This week was all service meetings and service. But normally we get up 7:30 and do exercises (which are rather pathetic, normally just stretches), study for an hour as a companionship and one hour alone. Then language study for 30 minutes. But this week was rather different just service service and more service. We sanded down wood, painted and cleaned haha
Interesting!  He promised to send photos and more details about the service projects next week; that was all the time he had for today.

Six weeks from now, Elder Kenison will be completing his final interviews and saying goodbye to Chile!  Hard to believe!!  We hope and pray his final "change" will be a wonderful, successful, and joyful one.

Here are a couple of bonus photos (not recent, but certainly typical):

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24 update

It sounds like Elder Kenison and Elder Hassler continue to work hard and do their best.  This was the summary of the week:
Well we've passed by for several people this week. trying to animate them and trying to get them to come to church and stuff. We've been trying to pass by for people in our sector and teach them. We found Fanny!!!!! We set a cita and passed by and she wasn't there. So we decided. maybe if we don't set a cita she'll be there. So we just randomly passed by the other day :) it was awesome! The same thing with Rafael, a less active member. With work it's been REALLY hard to find him because he works a lot, but yesterday we felt like we should pass by for his house. and he was home!!! haha It was awesome!!! Also we got a time to pass by and talk to Familia Salinas :D it's kinda sad because they just let us know that their friend just past away, but we were already planning to teach... The Plan of Salvation. Elder Hassler and I will be doing some practices to try and get good at teaching it. Elder Hassler mentioned to me recently that he hasn't ever taught the second lesson. Kinda crazy. But I'm not surprised because it's SO hard to find people at home. Everyone at this time of year is working, working and working some more.
For the "Liahona project" (preparing copies of the Church magazine to be distributed in public places) he reported:
yup just gluing and gluing and gluing some more... haha
They've been gluing their contact information on the magazines; they need to get them distributed now so they can do some good!

We asked about his experience as a district leader, and what he tries to accomplish when they have divisions with other companionships.
Just be an example. Be animated and show them that you love them. Really I just want to get to know them, why they're here on their mission, what their family is like, stuff like that to help them. I try to help them with whatever I can.
As for the progress in the district, he reports:
In the district we have about 9 baptismal dates set with different investigators and more and more are coming to church (something we've been focusing on in our district and zone meetings).  Just kinda waitin on our sector to get goin. haha
There will be "changes" next week — and Elder Kenison will begin the last 6-week segment of his mission.  We asked what he expected would happen:
I don't know. I could stay because it's my last change but I might go. I'm kind of out of ideas in this area. If I stay I'll just do my best. haha I'd like to stay because there is NO way I could have a companion as big of a stud as Elder Hassler
He really seems to be enjoying his work with Elder Hassler as much as any companion he's had in his mission — that's wonderful!  He also commented about their time together:
I was sick a lot so we didn't get to do alot in the sector. But I got to teach him lots of Chileanismos (slang terms) haha and so he's been able to understand people a little better now. haha and now he's saying "ok hermana gracias por todo, pero tenemos que echar al pollo, cuidese mucho" meaning really, "hermana thanks for everything but, we've got to split, take care." haha People laugh when they hear that froma gringo. haha But Elder Hassler's Spanish in general is AMAZING!!! We had an appointment yesterday with less active members. They've been members for a LONG time and they know LOTS of missionaries. Somehow we started talking for little about how Elder Hassler is new. They were suprised that he's only been here for 3 months and talks so well. haha He'll be speaking better than I do when he has a year in his mission. easily. haha He's a stud
As for recent food experiences:
Elder Hassler has been talking about that. A while ago we had "prietas" and "riñones" - prietas is a mix of a type of meat and animal's blood, usually from a pig or cow. haha And riñones are kidneys hahaha So we've had a good experience. This wednesday we'll have lunch with the hermana again. I hope all goes well haha
Recently they had a multi-zone conference with Elder Corbridge.  Today, Matt sent this "annotated photo" showing people he pas particular connections with.  Fun to see his comments:

 This was labeled as, waiting for the bread to cook, and killing flies haha — we like the homemade fly-swatter!

Looks like they kept the flies away pretty well.   making bread. haha (mom I learned so I can make you some when I get home because I know you like bread)

Continuing on the food theme, this one was: come y bebe (eat and drink) a "fruit cocktail" without alcohol haha just a popular thing that Elder Alonzo taught me to make haha it is DELICIOUS!!!

And here's Elder Hassler, enjoying the last of Elder Kenison's birthday cake (with the nice chocolate frosting we mailed down special for him to enjoy!):

Here's my study wall haha — he loves his photos!

And finally, this photo seems like Classic Matt:

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17 update

This week's update on work with less active members:
Yup still passin by and still working with some of them. We've been talking to the Famlia Armijo (ar-mee-ho) they're awesome! Kinda just slipped away from the church because they live kinda far and they changed branches so it's kinda hard to leave all of your old friends behind and try to make new ones. They told us that they want us to pass by more. We told them that we would but only if they go to church and stuff. Because we don't want to be spending a lot of time with them and have nothing come out of it. haha They assured us that they would work hard and attend church.
That sounds encouraging!  Meanwhile, some additional progress:
We found two new investigators. AMAZING investigators. haha We received a reference from Hermana Espina (the hermana we ate dinner with on Christmas eve) and we passed by for Carlos and Alejandra. Alejandra has LOTS of questions and has kind of bounced from church to church so she asked a lot of questions. Carlos wasn't a part of really any religion so he was just kinda chill. he told us that he just wanted to listen. So we taught the first lesson (La Restoracion) it was awesome! With Alejandra's questions we told her that we would clear them up one by one, but over time. haha Because I've had the experience when you try to teach them and answer all of their questions all at once. It's impossible! So we're trying to go step by step in the process. So hopefully all works out with them. We've passed by for a couple of other people but they haven't been home.
I love that "Chilean" way of expression - "passed by for" someone!  haha

The mission recently had a visit from Elder Lawrence E.  FirCorbridge, a member of the Area Presidency and of the First Quorum of Seventy.  This was Matt's report on the content of his message, and of an application that soon came:
The spirit, the spirit, the spirit, the spirit, the spirit, the spirit, the spirit, and more about THE SPIRIT!!! It was cool because he asked,"If I was an investigator and I asked you, right after you had taught me a lesson, yeah well, why is this important? Why do I NEED to change my life? Why do I need to change religions?" (Which was interesting because Carlos asked us the same question later that day, and we replied just the same as Elder Corbridge told us to)

"Because in your life you can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift, is the greatest gift of God that we can have in this life."

Carlos then asked us, "But I've already been baptized." We then reminded him that we had talked about the authority to do so. It was pretty cool. So really Elder Corbridge told us to focus on the MIT the Most Important Thing. (he said it in English too haha) and so, for example, in the lesson about the restoration the most important thing (in most cases) would be the spirit, a gift that we can receive that helps us feel "peace, love, and every good thing"
We'll hope for continuing progress in these efforts in weeks to come!

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10 update

Elder Kenison and Elder Hassler continue to spend much of their time working with less active members.  Elder Kenison described the efforts:
good just kind of frustrating. We have some of the most amazing visits with them (not because of us of course haha) but then for some reason they just don't come to church. But all it'll take is patience. and a little effort on their part. Hopefully they'll come around
No photos today, based on this report of the P-day activities:
We actually had a little "get together" as a zone. We played sports, soccer and kinda hit around a volleyball. And then we watched a movie, the Emma Hale movie. I'd never seen it. It was SOOOO good :D Then we ordered some pizza and ate it there. But SADLY I forgot my camera. :(  Sorry
We always hope for some fresh new photos, but can't complain since we're generally pretty spoiled.

There are now 9 weeks to go in Matt's mission.  There will be one more "change" in three weeks.  He really loves being with Elder Hassler, but chances are they will be separated with this coming change.  We suggested to Matt that he should give a gentle suggestion to President King about being near Elder Poulsen for his last change.  He apparently did pass on the suggestion:
Yeah I did. I told him, "On behalf of my mom, and kind of myself, I just wanted to "mention" that I wouldn't mind being around Elder Poulsen for my last change." haha I told him at a conference that we had recently so Elder Poulsen was right there so Elder Poulsen kind of asked him the same thing when I asked him. It was pretty cool haha
This was the final thought from this week's letter:
Well one weird one. haha A couple nights ago I was exhausted and so I went to bed and feel asleep right away. haha And while I was sleeping I dreamt of me walking around, and I was SO tired (in my dream) and then I woke up. haha It was weird. I dreamt of being tired. Kinda random.

Here's a cool quote, "Live every day like it's your last, and you won't regret it once time has past."
Thanks, Elder — keep working hard!

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3 update

As we enter the new year, we (Matt's parents) are now aware that we have only 10 p-days after today.  That's all!  We will miss these wonderful days of communication.

We were delighted today to hear that the elders are "alive and kickin!"  Good to hear they are back to full strength and working hard again.  Elder Kenison said Elder Hassler is making great progress in learning "Chilean":
Awesome! He had an hermana say yesterday after he said the prayer, "Eres kapo el Elder Hassler!" haha pretty much saying, "Elder Hassler is a stud" haha he speaks EASILY better than I did when I had a year in my mission.
We asked about the earthquake that occurred Sunday in Chile.  It was magnitude 7.1, which is not as big as last year's 8.8 but still very large.  It was about 300 miles south of Santiago, and fortunately appears to not have done much damage.Matt commented:
No I didn't feel it we were walking around the street really fast. haha But i did hear about it. That's crazy!
As for New Years traditions and celebrations, this comment:
Yeah there was a firework display thing. And there is a custom here that on new years you give a hug to the people at the beginning of the year to wish them luck. haha So we didn't knock many doors because people would think we're wanting to give them a hug. haha but it was good. There were hugs and kisses and everything given to everyone yesterday at church. haha Elder Hassler turned to me and said, "Too much love!!!" haha I just laughed, and said, "Welcome to chile... haha"
It sounds like they continue the focus of working with the members to encourage better involvement and support:
We've been working a lot with the members and also trying to get the new area organized so that we can make sure that EVERYONE gets a chance to accept or reject our message, so that we can be the most effective. We've been visiting the members that live there, even though there are only three families and only one of them are really active. We've tried to visit them and get to know them a little more. like their families and also their schedules so we can know when they're working or available. :)
We found this story particularly interesting:
We passed by for a less active member recently, Nestor. haha he's a stud. He speaks English too so we'd randomly switch off from one to the other haha it was kinda annoying for Elder Hassler I'm sure haha. But we talked to him a bit. He let us know that he had talked to his boss and that he won't have to work on Sunday anymore. We were excited to hear that. But also we just talked to him for a bit. He told us that for new years and stuff he just spent it all alone. We felt kinda bad that we hadn't heard of it sooner but we just talked for a little to get to know him. Then he asked us if he could share a couple of ideas that he had to help us as missionaries. haha
We told him that he could. He told us that we need to "dejar huellas" which means like, leave prints, or a path. For example, he said, if you want a dog to come into your house, you'll leave treats along the path so that they'll go where you want. He told us several different ideas that he has to do that with people really, to find the ones that want to learn more, and if they want to learn more, (want more treats) they'll follow the path.
One of the ideas he had is that we could pass by for the houses of members and ask if they have any Liahonas that they're not using and then with those we could pass by for "pelucarias" (hair cutting places) hospitals, or anywhere where you would have to sit and wait. And we could leave them there. But also put a little piece of paper on every 5 or so pages that says "if you have any questions, or if you would like to learn more, call this number......." Then we could leave our number there for the people to call if the want to learn more. He told us that he has TONS of ideas. So yesterday we spent a good part of the day passing by for members. haha Now we have more than a hundred Liahonas! haha We just need to print off the little papers and glue them on. haha Nestor says that his ideas are that the investigators come looking for us, not us for them. So we're going to give that a try. And for this week just do what we normally do and kind of give that a while to start and hopefully some people start calling. haha
Here's a picture showing the results of that effort:

Interesting idea!  We'll be eager to see how this goes.

Two more photos.  Elder Hassler is trying to get Elder Kenison to like sauerkraut on his completos:

And then this "mission photo" — Elder Kenison on the lower right, Elder Hassler on the far left: