Week 41 – Teno, Chile

This past week has been pretty awesome!

On Saturday, we had this really cool training that we did.  Right now, we are working really hard to help everyone in the branch do their visits, whether it’s home or visiting teaching.  As a branch, we put on our own training and basically taught the members how to do visits, why they are important, and some key parts, etc.  It was great.  We all gave a little part, and then there was lots of participation from everyone.  It was more like a discussion.  I think everyone learned a lot, and I hope it will inspire them to do more with their visits.  I was kind of worried that no one would come, but we had a decent show.  Overall, it was a great experience.

Then the other day, we went over to this meros activos little completo restaurant.  His name is Diego and he’s pretty cool.  We’re working with him to try and get him coming back to church.  He has this little Chileno diner, so sometimes we stop there to eat.  He sells this really big churresco, which is pretty much this roast beef sandwich with tomato and avocado.  It’s really good.  Elder Smith said that one time he ate one all by himself, so I wanted to take him up on that challenge.  I bought one and ate it all!  In the beginning, I was loving it.  It was so delicious and tasty, but by the end, I felt like my stomach was about to explode, ha ha.  It was good overall.  Definitely worth it.

I’ve just been looking right now for a good little spiritual thought to share with you guys, and there’s one that caught my eye.  One of my favorite scriptures that I’ve grown to love is in Mormon 9:31.  Right now, Moroni is writing to those who don’t believe in Christ, and is telling the reader that he shouldn’t condemn the people who wrote this book for the weaknesses of the prophets, but rather we should learn from these men so that we can be “more wise than they have been.”  For me, that really called my  attention because when I think of prophets, I think of very intelligent men called of God to help us.  But right here, Moroni is full out admitting his errors, mistakes, etc., and is telling us, “I’m not perfect, so learn  from me.”  From this, I learn a couple of lessons.  Moroni is a fantastic example of humility.  He has been called of God to write in the Book of Mormon (a very, very important responsibility) as the LAST righteous person from the Nephites.  So for me, the fact that he admits his faults to us shows how humble that he was.

Another thing that I am realizing is that we can learn from everyone in one way or another.  Because everyone has strengths and things that they’re good at.  But also people have made mistakes before, so we need to learn from the mistakes of others, so that we don’t have to fail and learn for ourselves.  Basically, we should all try to take the good from everyone and leave the bad.  For me, I want to be better on this.  If we think, “yeah, I’m good, I don’t need anything from this comp, district leader, etc.,” then we are being ignorant.  If we are constantly trying to become better people, we will be humbled and realize that we are not perfect.  As Ether 12:27 says, that is our way to make weak things strong.  I know that all of us can become better people.  We need to just keep humbling ourselves and continue learning from EVERYTHING.

I love you guys a lot.  Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Halverson

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Week 40 – Teno, Chile

Hey Everyone!

This past week has been seriously amazing!

Elder Smith and I have been working like animals to get this “Special Sunday” planned out, and we had it yesterday.  The idea was that we would have a really well-planned out sacrament meeting and classes so that we could tell everyone and they could invite others.  This past week, Elder Smith and I visited people – a lot of less actives and part-member families, and we invited them to come.  Also on Saturday, the missionaries from our zone came to Teno and we left and did divisions with some members to remind all the less actives to come.  It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it!

Ever since I’ve been here in Teno, we’ve had an average of 33 people coming to church more or less.  But yesterday, we had 53 people!!!  It was absolutely, incredibly awesome!!  Also, we got a member of the stake presidency to come and speak.  And I directed a choir of the youth!!!

It was also great – after the sacrament meeting, we went to go talk with the less actives who came and we could see the spirit touch them and the love of the Lord be felt in their hearts.  A lot of people were affected yesterday, including me.  The Lord gave a tender mercy to us yesterday.  He softened the hearts of a lot of people so that they could come and participate in His beautiful gospel.  I learned a lot.

If we have faith in the Lord, and we do all we can, God will show us miracles in our lives.  We actually had a really great zone conference that talked about this.  Through our faith, our devotion, our diligence to serve the Lord, we are “opening the heavens,” so to speak, and inviting the Lord to bless us.

I know that if any of us have goals or ideals of things that we want to accomplish, the way that we can do those is through Him, and only Him.  I also know now that Jesus Christ really recognizes and has felt any sacrifice that we give.  He literally knows what it’s like to go through the hard times.  When we feel discouraged or alone, we can remember that our Savior knows us.  He’s already suffered it.  And through Him, we can receive comfort.

I love the mission!  I am grateful for everything that has happened.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than right here in Teno, Chile.  It’s hard, and sometimes there’s moments that just really suck, but this is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever been able to be a part of.  The most happy, joyous moments that I’ve had so far in my life have been here on the mish.  Call it basic, but it really is the best two years.

Love you all so much.  I miss you guys.  Hope that you are enjoying your summer!  Have a great week.  Hasta la vista, baby.

Love,

Elder Halverson

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Week 39 – Teno, Chile

Hey guys!

This past week has been pretty good.  Last P-Day, we tried to go to this placed called Siete Tazas, which means “Seven Cups.”  From what I’ve heard, it’s this really cool waterfall that’s pretty famous in Chile.  We went with our branch president, President Rojas, and his son, Seba.  It was about an hour away or so, and it was like a road trip.  It was fun.  It had been raining like the whole week, and also that day, but we weren’t worried.  It was so pretty as we were driving up – just out in the middle of nowhere with nature and trees and rivers.  It was cool!

When we were driving, we stopped by this cool waterfall that was called Cascada del Velo de la Novia, which translates to Bridal Veil Falls!  Just like the one in Utah!  Matthew Hendrix and I have good memories there, ha ha.  But it was so pretty.  Just a ton of water gushing down.

Then we kept going, and when we got to the entrance to go to Siete Tazas, they were closed.  That was kinda lame.  But it was cool.  We explored around the entrance and walked around.  There was a river pretty close to us with some dope rapids, so we explored that some.  Then we decided to head back.

The awesome thing is that on the way there, we saw like a ton of places to stop and get food.  So we stopped at one of these places.  We were pretty hungry, and we ordered some empanadas de pino!!!!  It was cool.  The place we went to had all these records hanging on the wall and they were playing the Beatles.  It was awesome.  Overall, a great P-Day!

Then the craziest thing happened.  One of the members here who we visit sometimes served his mission here in the Chile Conception mission.  And he always shows us photos of his mission, which is cool.  The other day, he was showing us his Christmas mission book, which has all the pictures of all the missionaries who were serving at the time.  I looked and there was my bishop from home, Bishop Bujnowski!!!!  It turns out they were serving at the same time, and even more crazy is that the member, David Jara, trained my bishop!  It was insane.  We were freaking out!

Also crazy is that a family we are working with lives outside of Teno, about 20 minutes, and lives in the campo. They are awesome.  They have like a ton of animals like goats, and sheep, and cows, and even some hedge hogs.  We went over there and we played with the animals a bit.  The husband is like a hard core Chileno cowboy.  He is a really good rodeo guy, so he has a ton of photos and books and medals for all the rodeos.  He even gave Elder Smith and I a rodeo book and one of his 1st place medals for each of us.  It was so awesome!  This family is so great.  Only the mom is a member, and we’re working with the rest of the family to have them come to church and get baptized.  I love them so much.

Overall, great things are happening in Teno.  I love it here!  I hope you guys enjoy the 4th of July!

Love,

Elder Halverson

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Week 37 – Teno, Chile

This week has been a pretty solid week.

Remember the random Haitians that came to church last week?  We actually went back to visit them.  But the thing is, they don’t really speak any Spanish.  There is a recent convert in a ward from Curico who is Haitian and speaks perfect Spanish!  It was really cool.  On Saturday, we went to pick her up and then went back to Teno to see the Haitian people.  We got there, and to be honest, we hardly did any of the teaching; it was pretty much all Fafu, the recent convert.  And it was all really good at first.  She was basically teaching about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and they were pretty receptive (we didn’t understand what was going on, because she was speaking Creole, so she paused the lesson a few times to catch us up, ha ha).

Then, she talked about the Plan of Salvation just a little bit, but as soon as she started, one of the Haitians stood up and started yelling and hollering back about it.  Turns out she was a very, very, very extreme Pentecostal lady, so it started to turn into a full out Bible bash!  Except the bad part was Elder Smith and I couldn’t calm down the situation because we didn’t speak their language!  (Plus it didn’t help that Fafu is more sassy than my sister Hannah, lol).  But eventually it died down, and apparently Fafu roasted them, but the good news is that they are going to read the Book of Mormon (Fafu brought one in Creole) and we are going to come back every Saturday to visit them.

So that was the  craziest thing that happened for sure, but I think for the rest of my letter, I’ll tell you about some of my favorite foods here in Chile.  My dad is coming down in August to go skiing (we won’t see each other, don’t worry!), but I made a list of the foods he needs to try.  I’ll share a few of these with ya’ll.

To start off with, there’s the most famous, completos.  Super good and super simple.  It’s basically just a hot dog with tomatoes, smashed avocado, and mayo on top.  Then you can add ketchup, mustard or hot sauce.  Also, they are cheap.  You can find completos for easy less than 2 bucks.  Then my personal favorite are empanadas del pino.  What it is is like this savory stuffed pastry with this delicious ground beef and sautéed onion mixture with an olive and a slice of hard boiled egg, all inside, then baked.  SO GOOD, even coming from a guy who hates olives and hard boiled eggs.  The next is called Pan Amasado!!!  It translates into “kneaded bread” but really just means homemade bread.  It’s this kind of circular disc bread, about 4 inches in diameter, with holes poked on top.  When it’s all warm and right out of the oven, it is so darn good.  Not all bakeries will have them, but when they do, it’s so good and so cheap.  You can get one for like 15 cents.  Throw some jam on that or ham and cheese – so delicious.  The only bad thing is that they hardly have peanut butter here, so you can’t make PB&Js.

Well, that’s about it guys.  I love it here and I am so grateful to be serving the Lord.  Have a good week!

Elder Halverson

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Week 36 – Teno, Chile

Hey!

Well, great news this week!  It turns out that Smith and I are both going to be staying together for another change.  This whole week, we have been contemplating whether or not he would be leaving or staying, or me leaving, etc.  It was a pretty stressful week for Smith, but we’re both just glad we are here together in Teno for another change!

In the missionary work, things are going fantastic.  This past week, we used the mission area book to find some old investigators.  We visited a few of them, but we found someone who wants to continue receiving the missionaries!  Also, Smith had an awesome idea.  At the beginning of every month, our phone gets more minutes added on.  On the last day of May, the idea was that we would call every old investigator contact that we had in the phone.  That way, we don’t just waste minutes.  It worked!  We were able to set up some appointments with some old investigators.

Also, the district class we had was super fun!  First in the morning, before it started, Elder Gutierrez, our district leader, came in and made us arepas.  He’s from Columbia, and it’s a Columbian breakfast with thick corn tortillas with sautéed tomatoes, onions, peppers, and fresh cheese stuffed inside.  They were so good.  Then the class was hilarious.  We have a hermana that is going home tomorrow, so last Tuesday was her last district class.  What happens in the mission is that if someone is going home, you say that she is dying; it’s pretty funny, but it’s also a little weird.  And when someone goes home, a lot of people roast them that like they’ll be married in two months, going on lots of dates, etc.  And then that hermana, Hermana Steenblik, pretty much had that happen to her.  There is a part in the district class where we write all our investigators on the board and talk about their challenges, our goals for them, etc.  So Smith and I wrote her, Hermana Steenblik, on the board, ha ha, and that her goal was to get married, go to the temple, give out her phone number, stuff like that.  It was pretty funny.

Also, the craziest thing happened yesterday.  We were just hanging out before church started, kind of like normal, then these three Haitian people just walked in out of nowhere!  We talked with them after sacrament meeting and they were really nice.  The problem is they hardly speak any Spanish; they speak French.  But the good news is that Smith used to speak French more or less, so right now he is trying to relearn it, and then we can talk to them.  So that will be cool!

It has been such a pleasure to be here in Teno with Elder Smith.  I know I say this all the time, but I seriously am learning so much.  One I know is that I definitely was a total noob before the mish.  And I know that I still am, but I am so grateful to be here.  Smith and I were talking about it last night – he hits his year mark this change.  And then I’ll hit mine IN TWO CHANGES!!!  That is seriously insane!  I seriously still feel like I just got here to Chile.  But we were talking about all the things that have passed, the many times we felt the stupidest, when we didn’t know what we were doing.

And these times both pumped us up.  Everything in the past has happened for a reason, but we shouldn’t focus on the past.  We just have to learn from these experiences and become better, then focus everything onto the future.  I promised myself that I need to just focus this next year-and-something-months on being the best version of myself that I can be.

Overall, it’s just awesome.  I think I’ll end with my testimony in Spanish.

Se con todo mi corazon, que Dios es real, que el nos ama.  Yo se que Jesucristo vino al mundo, para sacrificarsa por cada persona.  Él nos conoce, sabe cada dolor, cada pena que heros sentido.  Estoy agradecido por la opportunidad ser misionero.  Les quiero y les amo.  Que tengan una buena semana.

Con Amor,

Elder Halverson

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Week 35 – Teno, Chile

Hey Guys!

Wow!  This week has seriously been awesome!

On Friday, the first counselors of the General Relief Society Presidency and the General Primary Presidency came to Rancagua to give a training!  Elder Smith and I are the counselors of the branch presidency here in Teno, and I work with the women’s organizations (RS, YW, Primary), so we were invited to go!  It was a fantastic training!  They divided the people into Relief Society and YW/Primary so Elder Smith and I went to the YW/Primary.  We had Bonnie H. Cordon train us.  It was seriously so good.  She talked about some things we can do to make us better leaders, how we can help the people in our organizations.  She gave her talk in English, but it was translated into Spanish for the members.  Elder Smith and I got all the jokes in English and laughed before everyone else.  It was hilarious.

It was kind of funny – at the beginning, she asked the people for each organization to stand up, as she said each one.  I basically had to stand up for all of them, but when we got to Young Women, and I stood up, she was like, “Look, we even have a young man working in YW!”  She called me out, ha ha!  It was kind of awkward.  But she really did a great job.  I was blown away.  I haven’t really had any opportunities to see the women’s side of the church, other than conference talks, but I am impressed.  Our leaders for the women are very, very good.  It was also cool because basically all the presidencies were there from all the stakes and districts of my mission.  I got to see all the members from Doñihue, my last sector!  I saw Hermano Willie!  It was so great to see him.  He teared up when he hugged me.  I love that guy.

Then on Saturday, we got to participate with the youth.  Every year there is a fundraiser to help burn victims, like a collaboration between the church and the organization.  We went to the church early and made breakfast for them, which was bread and eggs.  Then they went out to collect money.  It was great.  Then we went to Curico to participate in the stake family history activity.  We basically put on this little theater, to show what happens in the spirit world.  It was pretty good.  A good number of people came, so that was cool.  Then that night, we visited an investigator who worked at a sushi place, and she made us sushi!  It was fun.

Then on Sunday, we had a huge attendance!  There were two baby blessings, and an amazing testimony meeting.  The spirit was there so strong!  Then afterward, one of the families invited us to their party for lunch to celebrate the baby.  It was pretty good!  These members are converts, and it was definitely a real Catholic party, ha ha, but it was great.  It was the closest thing I’ve seen here in Chile to a classic Texas BBQ, lots of meat, potatoes, etc.

Overall, it was an awesome week!  Great things are happening here in Teno.  We get transfers this week, and I hope nothing changes.  Elder Smith and I have been going great.  This has been his third transfer in Teno, so it could be possible, but we’ll see.

Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Halverson

(P.S.  Click over to his website elderhalverson.com to see a fun video he shot while out on the streets.)

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Week 34 – Teno, Chile

Hey guys!

This week has been pretty awesome.  Crazy, but awesome.

First of all, our water got cut last Thursday!  As a missionary, you get receipts and bills on the gate, then what you have to do is take them to the zone leaders, and they will take them to the mission office to be paid.  The problem with this is that we have forgotten to do it, ha ha, so we didn’t have water.  It was pretty lame!  We weren’t able to shower, do dishes, clean, etc.  We went to the church a few times to do sink showers and wash our hair!  And then we also had some 2 or 3 liter bottles that we filled up at the church to do dishes, clean, etc.  We finally got water last Monday.  It was pretty disgusting.

But then the next day, Tuesday, our electricity was cut!  So, sure, we could shower and do dishes, but at night we couldn’t see, ha ha.  The bigger problem is that here in Chile, house insulation doesn’t exist.  And it’s getting pretty cold down here.  The only thing that saves us is this little electric heater, but we didn’t have any electricity.  So for the whole week, we could see our breath in the house!  We kept calling the electric company, but they said there wasn’t anything they could do.  Then Saturday, they sent someone over, but all they could fix were the lights.  Last night, our branch president came and fixed it!  So now we are good, ha ha.  We have electricity AND water!

Also, this week, we had zone conference.  It was way good!  Pretty much what we did for that is we went to Curico, to the stake center.  Then all the missionaries from the two Curico zones came and we had presentations from our mission president, his wife, assistants, etc.  They are usually about how we can increase our teaching ability or improve as missionaries.  President Harris talked about personal study.  It was way good.  He related it to us in our teaching and stuff.  He also gave us a bunch of ideas on how we can focus our personal study.  It was great.  Then the assistants and the zone leaders did their stuff on the focus of the mission, which is working with members.  Then we also did little practices with our districts about it.  It was a really awesome zone meeting.  I learned a lot.

We also had interchanges this week, too.  I went to Rancagua with Elder Aguillar.  It was incredible!  We were contacting in this really nice area, and things were going pretty slow.  No one really wanted to hear from us, it was late, and we were tired.  So we stopped, said a prayer for guidance, and then continued.  Literally, the next house we went to a person came outside!!  Then we told him we were missionaries, and he let us in directly after that.  We sat down and talked with him.  HIs name was Juan.  He was super nice!  Then we gave him the lesson.  I basically just taught him about the restoration, and the Book of Mormon.  At the end, he just looked at us and said, “Wow, that makes sense!  I am going to read this book and ask if it’s true!”  It was absolutely amazing!!  He was the most really prepared and receptive investigator I have ever seen!  Now I know for sure that God does prepare people to receive his gospel.  We don’t know when, how, why, etc., but Christ is in all places, and at all times.  Miracles are real.  God really does answer our prayers.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Halverson

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