Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

How is everyone doing? I hope wonderful!!!
I'll get right to the point. I got my new companion, Elder Anderson,
from Missouri. He is incredible!! He is a great example and an
incredible missionary in general! I'm glad he is my first companion
out in the field. He has set the bar high already. I haven't spoken
english since the last day we were in the mtc because he said that all
we are going to do is talk in spanish so that's all it has been! But
that kind of means that I don't talk too much because I don't know
very much spanish haha but it has helped a ton and I am slowly
learning... Also I am his last companion. Which means I will change
companions in 5 more weeks to finish my 12 week training. Who knows
after that!

I got shipped off to a city called Catemu. It is a little outside of
Llay-Llay. It is a looong way from our mission home. It takes us
nearly 3 hours to get to the north mission home. And I love it!!!!
There are hardly any members at all in our sector and we don't even
have a ward. We have a branch and we have to go to Llay-Llay for
sacrament meeting because that is where our chapel is! It's like a 15
minute bus ride.

I am definitely not in America anymore. It's so different and such an
amazing and new experience! There are dogs out in the street like
crazy. A couple have chased me but I haven't gotten bitten yet. If you
do get bit you have to go into the hospital and get 5 shots and they
say that they do not feel good. So the goal is not to get bit but
hardly anyone does. There are some big german sheperds that will give
you the eye and that's a little scary BUT we have bikes!! So we can
hopefully get away from any danger.

Most areas don't have bikes but because we have a big area and are the
only two missionaries here we have bikes to get around so that is
pretty fun! Right now we have womens bikes haha but on wednesday we
will get bikes for guys!

Our house is actually not too shabby! It's plenty big for our needs!
It's old and doesn't always smell good but I like it! We have hot
water for our showers but we have to light the water heater before we
get in, other than that the water is cold which isn't bad! It's also
safe to drink. We think, niether of us have gotten sick so we assume
it's okay! haha

My spanish is still awful. The understanding as well. Every once in
awhile I can understand what is going on but it's hard. It get's very
frustrating at times too. And usually at some point in every day I
feel like I will never be able to get it then some small miracle will
happen and bring back my confidence! I know I can learn it. It's just
not coming right when I want it because it will come when God wants
it! One of these miracles was Elder Anderson told me to go talk to
this lady that was in the bus on our way home from Llay-Llay or San
Felipe and I actually talked and understood her the whole time! I told
her about the church, showed her a picture of my family and Drey and
me and told her about my family and foster care, and gave her our
number. Also I have been able to understand more things I read in
spanish, everything I study in personal study, etc. Is spanish and I
have been able to understand a lot more. I can now read and understand
the scriptures in spanish!! Which I am very proud of and excited about
because on day 1 I couldn't understand a single sentence in spanish!

Everyday it is incredible to see the miracles that happen. This has
been the coolest thing for me so far. The very first night we were
walking to our house and some young man came and started talking to
us, turns out he is a less active and so we planned a day we could
come talk to him and his family and him and his family are great, one
of my favorites. I will talk about them more later.
Then we had to go to the store that night and another guy stopped us
who wanted to practice his english and then we got an appointment with
him and the next night on the bus a lady(his husband) recognized us by
her husbands description of us and said how they were excited for our
meeting! Another time we were waiting for a bus and an old man got off
and said hola and it turns out he was actually an investigator that we
were looking for early that day!
There are more but wow the Lord puts you in places you need to be.
It's truly amazing.

So an investigator was baptized the saturday before we came and then
was confirmed and given the aaronic priesthood this sunday and that
was really cool! I like him a lot. He's an old man but is very sweet
and it was neat to see how much he loves the Sister missionaries that
were before us in this area and how much the gospel has already
affected him. We visit him often to teach him the lessons again and
about the temple and family history work and such things. We ride the
bus with him to church and stuff it's cool!

The Osses family is a great family and are mostly less active members
but Brother Osses's wife is not baptized but yesterday we commited her
to November 2! That was pretty neat too. We have 3 baptizm dates now,
so that is exciting!

There are a lot of things that are different about this place and this
city but I love it. As we have meet with certain people more and more
I have started to grow a love for them and it makes a difference
because when you love someone you want the best for them. We as
missionaries and as members of this church and should strive to be
like christ who loves everyone and that has helped me a lot because
now I want to learn this terribly hard language for these people, not
for me anymore, I want to share with them my experiences and how it
has blessed my life and how it can bless their lives in so many ways!

A lot of the time I am scared to talk to people but I was reading a
general conference talk and a little one liner stood out to me. It
says, "La fe es el antídoto contra el temor" which means faith is the
antidote against fear. So because I have fear I need to just have
faith. That's it. It's simple. Faith that God will help.

My birthday was absolutely wonderful! The Sister Missionaries gave me
tons of treats and made me a huge card and signed their names and drew
a flag of their country. I got treats from Argentina, Nicuaragua,
Columbia, Chile and a bracelet from columbia also! Hermana Jacobsen
even made me cake and then my teachers gave me treats also, it was a
fantastic day!

Be sure to send me your favorite one liners from General Conference!
And enjoy it cause it's in english! haha

Love always,
Elder Gunnell

Thursday, September 25, 2014

From the Mission President

Arrival of Elder Gunnell
 Here attached is a hand written letter from your son, a letter from President Videla, and a picture of him with President and Hermana Videla.He has arrived, received a great trainer for his companion, and has already left out to go and bless the people´s lives here in Chile.
Best Wishes,

Letter from Bayler:

Six weeks in the CCM went by so quick! We are now at the mission home but have not got our new companions yet! I'm excited and nervous, mostly excited though! Part of me opes I get a latino and part of me really doesn't like that idea.  I just really want to learn spanish and FAST.  But I know that I will get a companion that is good for me.

My birthday was an incredible birthday. All the Latino Hermanas made a huge card and some made a card of their own and tons of different treats from Argentina, Columbia, Brazil and Nicaragua.  So I got pretty spoiled.  Then Hermana Doll Made chocolate cookies (I need to get that recipe) and my teachers all gave me a candy bar or something similar.  Also because it was Chile's Independence day on the 18th we had a celebration the day after and had a bunch of activities  and they cooked some amazing food and we played soccer.  Oh how I miss that.  I forgot how much I loved soccer.  Not the high school soccer but real soccer.

Learning spanish thus far has been the hardest thing I've ever done.  And to be honest I am kinda scared to start this whole thing later today and officially tomorrow.  But there is a scripture I really like, it is Alma 17:9-14.  It's when the sons of Mosiah are going to preach the gospel.  In verse 9 it says how through the spirit we will be made instruments in the Lord's hands.  In verse 11 it says if we are patient in our afflictions (in my case, learning Spanish) they will be made instrument in the hands of the Lord, again.  So I know it's possible and I know the Lord didn't call me here without a way to accomplish the things I need to do.  It will happen in the Lords time.

Love Elder Gunnell

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

So a lot of things happened this week.  I will start with the most important and just see where I can get to! I'm sorry if I can't get to all the personal emails I would like to!

The reason we had to do our proselyting and contacting this week(usually it is week 6 of your MTC stay but for us it was week 5) because it is Chile's day of independence on the same day of my birthday! And it is a huge deal! They start celebrating a week early and won't stop their celebration until this Sunday. Nobody goes to work or goes to school and there are just a lot of big events and festivals that go on. So because of that we did our week 6 activities during week 5.

Thursday we got to go contacting, in Santiago there are tons of parks and so they split all the companionship up and sent them off to different parks or sometimes there was a couple of companionship's at a big park.  Some had to get on buses and others just walked. We just walked and we talked to 8 people but 3 did not want to talk to us haha but we actually got names, numbers, and addresses for two people and then handed out some pass along cards to other people we talked to! It felt so good to get out in the real world and talk to real people and realize how atrocious my Spanish is! Haha but it was incredible and at some parts I could not understand them but other parts I could!

Friday was the big day though, we went on splits with missionaries in the West mission!! We all went and got bus/metro cards and got on a bus(we had teachers helping us because the bus system around here is way confusing), walked to the metro jumped on that which was a first for me! Rode on line 5 to the Del Sol station where my companion and I got off and met up with missionaries and went on splits! My companion was Latino from mexico and spoke absolutely no English but honestly it was really fun, and hard, to talk to him but we had a good conversation whenever we weren't talking to people! During this proselyting time we taught 2 lessons, got two contacts, got laughed at(mainly me for my Spanish haha which was totally fine) and talked to a couple of people!

Our first lesson was with a man and the whole set up was pretty cool. We were walking around and my companion said okay lets go to this address and so we walked to the house and were waiting for someone to come to the gate but nobody was home so we were just waiting deciding if we should move on when a man walked down the sidewalk to us with a grocery bag and asked if we were missionaries and we said yes and he asked if we could come and say a prayer for his wife who is in the hospital in a coma. Well it turns out that the house we went to was actually his house and he was just coming back from shopping! So he let us in and we first talked about faith and he told us he has faith that we as missionaries could move mountains if we also had that faith so that was cool that he had that much faith in us then we talked about the importance of prayer and then my companion said a very powerful prayer for this man's wife and afterwards we talked about how God supports us through our trials. It was a very spiritually strong meeting and I can't believe I get to go do that for two years.

The next lesson was not quite the same, haha we went to this older ladies house and I kid you not I think I only understood one word that came out of her mouth the whole entire time! She was straight Chilean which means she dropped all letter "s" and shorted almost every word by not saying the first letter or first part of the word! When we were reading a scripture she read it for us (and i promise i was looking at the right scripture) but I could not understand a single word so afterwards my companion asked if I got any of that and I said no way did I understand that and we both just laughed. He said don't even worry because it will come with time!

When it was time to head back to the CCM my companion and I had to do the whole metro thing by ourselves and we had to get on then keep riding the metro to the end of the line where the rest of the companions were. We went to the Maipu station which is a huge metro station and then once all the missionaries were there we got back on and rode back into Santiago. The metro was a lot of fun because there were a lot of people so we were able to talk to a lot of people and practice our Spanish!

I have been able to understand a lot better though lately because all of our teachers now don't speak English(they don't know how to) and so we have to learn completely in Spanish and it has been a huge help! Sometimes they will even speak their regular speak and with their chileano accents and we don't notice it because we have gotten use to it! Things are coming along!!

This last Sunday we had a surprise for our morning devotional. Elder Ceballos of the first seventy and his wife came in person and spoke to us! Her talk was completely in Spanish and i got a lot out of it surprisingly and his talk was mostly Spanish with a mix of English and his was incredible as well. Also this Sunday was our first Sunday that was all in Spanish and so I have now said goodbye to English sacraments for two years, wish me luck!
We got new hermana's last week and they are all Latinas and are so much fun! They love to laugh at our horrible Spanish and I love it but there are very patient with us and help us a ton. We usually will sit by them at lunch to practice. Hermana Carmiento and Hermana Coronel are some of my favorites!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I wish I had time to thank you all personally but I don't think I will!
Also next week because I am going out in the field I probably won't have a P-day depending on what day their p-day is so I won't be writing for two weeks!

Love always,

Elder Gunnell

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

First of all I need to wish Josh Keller happy birthday!!!!! I hope it is wonderful and someone please send him a text or an email or facebook him or something for me!
So I'm not sure what kind of things you really want to hear about, the MTC this week has had some ups and downs, more ups though! It really isn't bad here and it is a lot of fun. One of the best things that happened was that on Friday my Companion and I had three lessons that just were incredible! It was a shocker and it felt so good! It was the first time I really felt like we had a strong sense of unity in our lessons and I was able to understand all the Spanish being said, ask questions, answer questions, share scripture and testify and commit! Don't forget that these lessons are just with our teachers who pretend to be investigadors but it is a ton of help and does feel like a real lesson! So yes my spanish is still atrocious but it is definitely getting better and FASTand I know there is no way it could happen this fast without the help of the lord! 

Another good part of this week was on Saturday our morning teacher, out of the blue, made us promise to only speak spanish the WHOLE day until 9:30 at night, it was hard! But fun and helped a ton!  So now it is a district goal for us to start today and speak spanish all day except at one meal a day and if we have to we can plan our lessons in english but next week we are going to go only spanish! Solamente espanol!
A bad part about this week is that the group that has been here two weeks more than us left this morning, I am kinda sad about it... There were some amazing kids in that group and I know they will do some incredible things but I will definitely miss them! I had become very good friends with some of them.

Another good thing is that on a spanish grammar test we took the other day to just see how we were doing I scored a 59% which doesn't sound good, but it shocked me!! I actually didn't do too bad in comparison with the other kids in my district even though my spanish was one of the very worst coming into the MTC. My companion scored 86%( like i said he is a genius!) then two kids scored 61 then 49, 44, 37 or something like that. So it goes to show that hard work does pay off and it is not always fun but when you do your part then God will help with the rest!
One morning my comp and I were taking 4 other missionaries with us to show them this really nice soccer field we found called, estadio espanol, I think. And when we got there, there was a worker out front and he started talking to us and we got talking about San Cristobal and us being missionaries and how he believes in religion but doesn't really go to church and how all his friends smoke and drink and how he doesn't really think that is good. So we were all like wow!! Good work for him! But we had ran out of time so we asked if he would be at the park the next day at the same time and if we could come back and he said yes! please do! So the next morning we ran back but because the park is gated and we couldn't get in(he was outside the park the first morning) so we sat outside for ten minutes but he never came out which make sense cause he can't really just abandon his job to come talk to us... It was a bummer but way cool to talk to a real person and attempt to speak spanish with them!
I saw a professional mountain biker, well I guess I don't know if he was pro but I think he had a brand new intense 951 with what looked like a pike on the front fork and had a mountin bike hat on and he definitely looked like a biker! haha anyways he was on the side of the road waiting for his buddy or something to come pick him up and that made me a little homesick and I just miss our mountains and being in nature and going biking or hiking or having a fire any time with friends and just exploring the mountains!
The most exciting thing though is that we get to go procelyting this friday!!!!!! We are going on splits with real missionaries out in the field from lunch until 7!!!!! We are going to the West mission and I can not wait!!!!!!!! We don't know much else besides we get to jump on the metro with our district and some teachers and then as companionships we will get off at different stops and the missionaries will be waiting and we will go do normal missionary stuff for the day! As much as I love it in the MTC I am ready to get out in the field and start! Even though I can't speak spanish very well, it will come and I want to teach real people! haha
I think that is it for today! I love you all and I appreciate all your support!

Elder Gunnell

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 2, 2014

Hola!!(the only word i know in Spanish)

I'm just kidding I know more than that now! In fact I can actually say stuff in lessons! And every two weeks our teachers get harder to understand, faster, and speak less English! We have three teachers, a morning, afternoon, and evening. Our morning teacher doesn't say a single word in English simply because she doesn't know English! Haha at least not very well so all of her teaching is in Spanish and it is honestly way good! I can understand basically all of it and it makes me feel pretty good! Back in Spanish class in high school i thought learning 25 words of vocab in two weeks was rough but now I learn and memorize at very minimum 25 words a day! and in the last two weeks I've probably learned who knows how many! It's amazing what you can do with the lord's help because I don't think there was anyway I could have learned that many words and remembered them all! So yeah the Spanish is coming a long better! but not amazing!

It's weird having new kids here because that means that we are moving closer to the leave date and the group above us leaves next Tuesday! Some of those kids are my favorite people and I will be way sad when they all leave  cause i like them a lot and when they leave that means i only have two weeks left! Ahhh!! I'm so excited!!

Last Wednesday we got to go to the temple because it is closed for the next two weeks or so but I think we will be able to go again before we leave.

Teaching investigators(our teachers play as an investigator and we do like a real lesson) is sometimes frustrating and sometimes very rewarding and also planning lessons is sometimes not the funnest cause my companion and i disagree a lot but when we do agree and are on the same page we have some very solid lessons!

On Saturday I guess there was another earthquake but it was in the morning so none of us were awake to feel it which was a bummer cause they feel super weird!

I've decided that the MTC is extremely fun and I really do like it a lot! The atmosphere here with all these missionaries in one place is a blast! And there is soo much to learn about the doctrine and how to teach and how to speak Spanish and we are all struggling together and all improving so it is cool to see it in all the kids here. 

On Sunday we watched a devotional given at the Prove MTC in January of 2009 by elder Holland and wow that just got me pumped to go out in the field it was so inspiring and strong and i can not wait! And i can't wait until i can speak the language and actually get my feelings out with emotion and all that! Sundays are some amazing days for sure!

Oh!! also on my area map in my call packet(look at picture i sent) there are those little specks out in the distance in the ocean and I thought they were misprints or something but it turns out that those are islands and they are all in the North mission! It's the Easter islands and some others so who the heck knew?!

Also we got a room with windows!!!!!! It is so nice! I sent a picture of that and of Alcantara our house. Do you get the pictures or no?

I am missing everyone! Kinda..... I am too focused and excited about everything here that its hard to think about anything but what new Spanish words i can learn... But I do miss all the conversations with everyone and seeing everyone's faces and hearing everyone laugh! But things are too good here!! The city is amazing, the food is great, the mountains are massive and gorgeous, the people here are fantastic and all is going well!!

Thank you all for the support and love i really do appreciate it and i love hearing about all the things happening back home so keep letting me know!