Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hermana Mercado's 20th Letter from Chile

What to say, what to say.... This past week was full of lots of
things. We had a sleepover in our pension. The Hermanas from the cost
came to sleep in our house last Sunday night because they had to do
things in the city the next day, and Monday night as well because we
had our mission Christmas party Tuesday! Hermana Wiltse (she's dying),
Hermana Carter (she was in my first district in the MTC), and Hermana
Grimaldi (Hermana Iroz's trainer). It was a fun time.

Our Christmas party consisted of skits from all the zones, a Christmas
song from all the zones, a talk from our President, a lunch, and a
white elephant gift exchange. I got a Chilean pen. It was a good time,
but a little formal. I wish their had been more games.

The day before the world was supposed to end, it rained. It usually
doesn't rain during this time of year. People were a little freaked

And the day the world was supposed to end, we had to go to the city to
take out Hermana Iroz's carnet. Lots of lines. And riding the metro.
Our ward had a talent show that night as well. It was really good. La
obra misional (a.k.a. us) sang "Jesus en Pesebre".

Sunday, we went out caroling with the Elderes/Sumo Sacerdotes of our
ward. It was really fun. And lots of contacts :)

Monday I talked with my beloved family through Skype. It was
wonderful. And my basement is completely different.

Then, in the evening we and the elders had dinner with Obispo's
family. People in Chile stay up till midnight (when the viejito
pascuero comes) and then immediately open their presents. We only had
permission to stay out till 11, but we opened our presents at midnight
in our house.

Yesterday, we went and sang Christmas hymns with our zone in La Plaza
de Maipu. It was a good time. And now I'm writing this while Hermana
Iroz skypes with her family.

Oh! And I finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish the other day! We
were reading it together as a mission in 85 days (I'm pretty sure
that's right), the same amount of time it took Joseph Smith to
translate it. And we were marking everything to do with Jesus Christ;
one color for every reference to Jesus Christ, one color for his
attributes, one color for every time he speaks, etc. It was really
awesome. I never realized how much the Savior is referred to in the
Book of Mormon, or how many times he speaks. When it came to his
attributes, I think the attribute I marked the most was misericordia.
Reading through the Book of Mormon this time, I really learned that
the Savior never gives up on us. No matter how many times we mess up,
no matter how many times we turn away from him, his arm is extended
still. We just have to make the choice to reach out and grab it. And
life is so much easier when we rely on the Savior. He really helps to
lift our burdens.

I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful, and I hope everyone took
some time to remember the reason for the season! And if you haven't
read the Book of Mormon yet, you really should. It's a really great

--Hermana Mercado

Hermana Mercado's 19th Letter from Chile

This past week was a little slow, and the sun didn't help. Man, does it get hot here! And earthquakes are more frequent here. I hadn't realized that earthquakes are like a daily occurence in Chile until one day we were visiting a member and her daughter pulled up a page on the internet about the earthquakes of the day. But their mostly little ones, and most of the time I'm sleeping during them. The little ones are called temblores, the big ones terremotos. It needs to be a 7 or something to count as a terremoto. 

Anyway, I don't have a lot of time, but I just want to share one story from the week. We still don't know our sector very well, and the other day we were walking around looking for the direction of a member that we had lunch with that day. We knocked at the door, and it turns out that we were at the wrong house, but another member, Carmen, lived across the street, saw us and invited us in. She offered us bebida while we made a couple of calls to find out where our lunch was supposed to be at. We got to talking, and it turns out she wasn't doing very well that day. She has various problems with her health and her daughter, and before you know it she was crying. We were able to share a scripture of comfort with her as well as a prayer. Yes, we were lost that day, but I think we were supposed to be lost. Carmen needed us, and I'm glad we were able to be there for her.

--Hermana Mercado      

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hermana Mercado and Hermana Iroz

Hermana Mercado's last Zone

 O Christmas Tree!

Hermana Mercado, Hermana Herrera and their Christmas lights!

Santiago Chile Temple

Jovenes del barrio: Eiman, Diego, Mario, David

Hermana Mercado with Rosita

Elder Mercau and Hermana Mercado

Almost the same name?!

Hermana Mercado with Angelina

Hermana Mercado's 18th letter from Chile

What can I say.... I'm tired. A little stressed, but happy. Whitewashing a sector is interesting. We have no basis to go off of, so we are just doing the best we can. The first thing has been to try and pass by all the members in our ward that live in our sector. We are also trying to find some of the investigators that the Elders were teaching before. As it is, we don't have a lot of set citas, but when all else fails, we contact. 

It's only been the first week, but we've had a few miracles already. There are like 6 or 7 condiminiums here, so we're not allowed to contact the houses in those. The houses that are outside are really nice as well, and one day we were contacting one street and I swear, we could tell people were home, but no one came to the door. Near the end of the street, one door finally opened and a twenty-something year old girl came out. Tammi, who is Catolica and studying in the University (I forget what exactly). We were able to testify about the Book of Mormon and about living prophets, and shared a prayer with her on her doorstep. She seems a little skeptical, but nonetheless interested and accepted our invitation to learn more. We're going to be meeting with her this week; she had to finish taking her tests last week.

One day we were looking up members that lived in the street Filodendros, and when we couldn't find one member we knocked at the house across the street to see if the neighbor knew where they were. The neighbor turned out to be a member as well, Juana, but she wasn't on our list of members. Anyway, she invited us in and we were able to chat a bit, get to know her, and share a spiritual thought before heading on our way. And then we saw her at church on Sunday. The Elders told us that was the first time they'd seen her in church since they'd been here. 

And then there's Maria Cristina. She's a menos activa that we've seen like every other day since we've gotten here. The first time we met her in the street, she told us she was a member, but she doesn't go to church because she smokes, but everytime we saw her she told us that we had to meet her grandaughter because she still goes to our ward with her daughter. We did actually meet her grandaughter during the week, because the father of Maria Cristina's grandaughter is our Ward Mission Leader, Marcos Contreras. The third time we saw Maria Cristina, we told her we had met her grandaughter and that she had to go to church on Sunday because it was going to be in the primary program. She didn't come on Sunday, but we decided to pass by her house to visit her. And she let us in. She told us that she usually doesn't answer the door when she sees that it's someone from the church. She also told us that she had had a dream that her grandaughter had called her in the morning to tell her to get ready for church because they were going to come by to pick her up. She had intended to go to see the primary program, but she had stayed asleep. She told us that maybe it's time for her to come back.

At the moment, I still feel like I'm walking around with my head cut off, but I know that the Lord's hand is in this work. We are just the instruments and we have to be willing to be guided.   

Hermana Mercado's 17th letter from Chile

Don't have a lot of time to write this week. We have changes today. Yep, they let us know Saturday night that I have changes this week. And the assistants called us yesterday to let Hermana Herrera know that she is training and I'm going to be senior companion in my new sector. WHAT?! I might have more time to write later. Love you all!

Since our P-day was cut short yesterday due to changes, they gave us time to do email today as well. 

Yes, I have been made senior companion. And I'm with Hermana Iroz, my first companion in the MTC! And on top of that, we are doing a whitewash; opening a new sector. We are in Cuidad Satelite in Maipu. The sector just belonged to elders, but now it's been split between the two of us. So, we are serving in the same ward as the elders, but we're in charge of half the ward boundaries. It's interesting working with elders. We are working with Elder Rivera (who also happens to be our district leader) and Elder Nelson. They've been showing us around and orienting us to our sector. I think we'll be walking around with a map for a while.

But the ward is really amazing. And they are really excited to have Sisters as well. We just met Hermana Isabel yesterday (a member who lives close to our house) and that night she came by to drop off dinner for us! 

President King told us that our area is basically like a ward in the United States. It's a ward full of return missionaries and an asistance of at least 120 every week. And we are definitely working in a richer sector. We met with the bishop last night, and he told us that it's a little challenging to get baptisms here. We'll have to see what we can do to help with that.

I have no idea why I've been given this responsibility so quickly. I don't know if I'm ready. But I do know that the Lord will never give us anything that we can't handle, and if we just trust in him he will help us through anything. I just have to replace my fears with faith. Hermana Iroz is super animada, so that helps. 

I have lots of pictures to send, mainly from the despedidos that I did, but this computer doesn't recognize my camera. I'll try to send pictures next week. 

--Hermana Mercado  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hermana Herrera y Hermana Mercdo

Misionerios del Barrio, David, Mario y Diego

Las Hermanas with a Human Statue!

Hermana Mercado's 16th Letter from Chile!

I finally received my Halloween package this past week that Mother had told me she had sent over a month ago. I don't know what's up with Chilean mail. Anyway, it was very entertaining to open the package because Hermana Herrera has never seen or even heard of some of the candy I received. It was the first time she had tried a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or an Almond Joy. When she picked up the fun size packet of peanut M&M's and felt how many were inside, she was like, "What is this?! This thing only has like 5 cosas in here!" Oh my goodness! I burst out laughing right then and there! Oh the joy of fun size packets. 
Speaking of Halloween, the other day when we were knocking doors, we found a family that let us in because they wanted help getting rid of the spirits that are in their house. Some people in Chile can be very superstitious. Yes, they say they have ghosts in their house. But, besides that, they seem interested in learning what we believe. We've taught them how to pray, and have started to explain to them about the priesthood so that one day the elders can come over to give their house a blessing. But we've explained to them that, for the blessing to work, they need to have faith. They admit that their faith isn't that strong, but they seem like they have the desire to increase their faith. We've given them a Book of Mormon to start reading. It will be interesting to see how things progress. I'll let you know if I see any ghosts. 
And happy thanksgiving! I know I'm late, but I thought I'd say it anyway. Sadly, there is no Thanksgiving here in Chile. I missed my Arizona family a lot that day. I'm sure the day was full of delicious food, love and fun! We stayed in our house most of the day that day. Hermana Herrera had a really bad headache, but she's better now! 
And Sunday we had our primary program! It was so cute! We helped to pin little HLJ (aka CTR) shields on everyone as they came into the sacrament meeting.
That day we also visited Graciela, a menos activa we found knocking doors. She taught us to make pan amasado. I wasn't very good at kneading out the dough in the way she was showing us. She and Hermana Herrera had a good laugh at my clumsiness. The people here forgive me for my inadequacies in the kitchen because I'm a gringa and don't know any better.  
This is the last week of this change. I'm pretty sure I'll be staying in Nueva San Martin, but we never know! I hope I get to stay. We've already been invited to members homes to celebrate Christmas and New Years!  It's going to be great!
--Hermana Mercado 

Flower outside la Capilla

The Zone making pizzas!

La Capilla ! 

Hermana Herrera made this poster for Hermana Mercado to
celebrate her 4 meses in the mission!

La Casa

Hermana Mercado's pizza - made at a Zone Activity

Mar de Tortas made for Hermana Mercado!  Happy 4 months!

Hermana Mercado with her celebratory Torta!

Elder Myres, the last Zone Leader

The Zone!!

Hermana Mercado's 15th Letter from Chile!

Chile is getting hot. It feels weird now that they have Christmas decorations and things up in the stores. I mean, this is the season when it's suppposed to be getting cold, right? 

Another random tid bit, the style here in Chile makes me laugh sometimes. People here wear jean and leather jackets. And fannypacks seem to be cool here too. Like you will see a grown man on a motorcycle wearing a fannypack. And the jeans women wear here are interesting. I'll have to take a picture one day, but the only way I can think of to describe it is that they have a thick elastic waist on top. That's probably a really bad description. 

Anyway, I gave my first talk in sacrament meeting this past week. Oh man I was so nervous. I basically had only one day to prepare. We were visiting la familia Calderon Friday, sharing with them a new initiative that our mission is implementing to get the members more involved in missionary work. We've been asked to share a paper called "Como Puedo Compartir El Evangelio" with all of the members. Well, the father, Dimas Calderon, is the second counselor in our Bisopric, and he asked me right then and there if I would be willing to give a talk about this initiative that Sunday. Fear instantly struck my heart, but of course I said yes. We were busy with citas the rest of the day, so I started to write my talk Saturday morning, and finished it Saturady night when we were done for the day. For my first talk, I think it went pretty well. Central message: Members have a lot of power to share the gospel, and when the missionaries and members work together in the work of the Lord, miracles can happen. Missionaries are willing and ready to teach, but we need help finding the people who are prepared to hear our message. And believe it or not, the people who are most prepared are members' family, friends, and neighbors. You have been preparing them with your example. Don't be afraid to share the gospel and invite these people to learn more.

--Hermana Mercado 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hermana Mercado's 14th letter from Chile!

This past week was Halloween. Yes, they have Halloween in Chile. It's still not as big as it is in the U.S., but I'm told that it's been gaining popularity every year. But I'm not sure some of the members of the church here really understand the point of Halloween. Some members think that the main point of Halloween is to glorify or praise evil things and Satan. In my mind, Halloween is just a holiday to dress up and get candy. So a few of the members of my ward were a little astonished to hear that back in the U.S. my ward typically had a Halloween activity. It was a funny situation, because right after we were having this discussion of whether the church should celebrate Halloween or not (we were having ward council the night of Halloween), the bishop came in and his grandchildren were out in the hall in costume, obviously just getting done trick-or-treating (dulce o truco). 
They need to get better candy to hand out though. The candy they got from trick-or-treating was a little lame.   

Other than that, the work is going a little slow right now, but it is going well. Contacting is definitely becoming easier for me, and we get to have some pretty interesting conversations with different people. The other day we found a lady who didn't profess any religion, but she believes in God and Jesus Christ, and reads the Bible. She says she's never found a church where she's felt the need to join. But she is interested in talking to us a little bit and learning more. We explained to her a little bit about the Book of Mormon, and I felt impressed to give her the one I was carrying around. We usually don't give people a Book of Mormon until after we've finished teaching about the Restauration. She was a little surprised that we would give her the book for free, but she says she's going to read it. She's interested in comparing it to the Bible since we said that she could.

Hmm, what else. Speaking in Spanish is becoming easier. It feels awkward when I switch to English now. But I'm by no means speaking perfect Spanish yet. But I'm progressing. I'm learning a lot of new words with Hermana Herrera. And I'm helping her to learn some English. We have an hour to study language, half an hour to study Spanish, and half an hour to study English. The Latins are supposed to be studying English in the field. When we have any special meetings, if they are asked to say the prayer or give the missionary purpose, they are supposed to do it in English, while us gringos are supposed to do it in Spanish. We've been reading the Book of Mormon in English together. It feels weird since I've only been reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish for almost three months. 

Yep, November 1st I hit three months in Chile! And I will hit 4 months as a missionary November 11th! Time really does fly on the mission. 

--Hermana Mercado  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hermana Mercado's 13th Letter from Chile

I have no idea what to say this week. This past week has kind of been a blur. Hermana Herrera and I have been working a lot, and have been finding new people to teach. It was been an amazing week, and at the same time a trying week. 

At the beginning, it was hard getting used to the change in companions. Hermana Herrera is great, but very different from Hermana Nelson. She doesn't like to dance, and she can't carry a tune; I've had to step up to the plate and give the tone in lessons when we sing hymns. And it was hard in the beginning because I'm literally talking Spanish 24/7 with no breaks. I've started to  miss English, and it was frustrating at times because sometimes I want to say things, but I don't know how to express myself in Spanish. But it has been getting easier. 

And Hermana Herrera is very patient with me, and very encouraging. With Hermana Nelson, I was mostly following her lead, but Hermana Herrera is helping me to come out of my shell more and now I'm sharing the load more 50/50. That responsibility has brought it's own stress, but I'm adapting, and I feel like I'm progressing. Although it is difficult, Hermana Herrera is really helping me to become the missionary I want to be, especially when it comes to listening to and following the guidance of the Spirit. 

In lessons, sometimes I keep quiet because I feel like I don't know what to say. Hermana Herrera has helped me to see that that is silly because in lessons, we shouldn't be the ones teaching, it should be the Spirit. I just need to open my mouth and let the Spirit guide my words. 

I've been talking more in lessons. 

We've started to teach Claudio, a 17 year old joven who has listened to the missionaries off and on, but he's much more receptive now. He has lots of friends that are members, and he's been attending Institute. We had a lesson with him and his member friends and reviewed the Restauration with him. He wants to know if it's true. We've committed him to praying about Joseph Smith, and to reading the Book of Mormon. 

It feels like we're kind of starting from scratch, because Hermana Nelson and I had to drop a lot of investigators because they weren't progressing, but I feel confident that if Hermana Herrera and I are diligent and keep pressing forward with faith, we are going to see a lot of miracles. 

--Hermana Mercado