Monday, April 27, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like fall

To say the least, we have had a lot of changes in the mission this week. How things are going to be done, how district classes will be taught, how our studies will be and other things along those lines. One of the bigger changes is that we now have 11 zones. We had five and now we have 11. So all the zones got smaller and so did the districts. In our zone just about all the new district leaders have never been a district leader before! And going with that, Elder Richards got called to be a district leader! So now I am companions with another leader haha

He had a leadership meeting on Wednesday so I had splits with Elder Terry, from Springville Utah, and we went to his sector. We just spent part of the day there but it was fun!

Oh! I bought some turf shoes and a ball so that in the morning I can juggle and practice a little bit so I don´t lose everything. We go run to a park that is super open and has a big parking lot in the center and lots of grass around it so I can juggle and do a couple little drills while Elder Richards does sprints and things like that cause he likes to run! So I´ve been digging that, although I´m frustrated that I´ve already lost my touch so much. I can´t even keep the ball in the air for five minutes without it falling at least once, so I need some help there. 

Friday we actually had a super good day! We were just about able to get a lesson everywhere we went! In total we had nine lessons! It was a surprise and a tender mercy from the Lord I´m certain. Then Saturday and Sunday were equally as good!

Sunday was a big day too! After church we had ward council and the sister missionaries from our ward had two baptisms. Oh, side note, a new sister named Sister Palmer got here this last week from Rexburg Idaho. She already talks better than I did when I left the MTC and she has a latina companion so she will learn very fast! Anyways they had two baptisms so we stayed for those and then after we didn´t have time to eat lunch cause we had too many appointments. We went to a young couple with a little baby boy (they are married!!) that we met last week. We taught them the Plan of Salvation, it seemed to make perfect sense to them and they showed their desire to get baptized so we planned a baptismal date with them! The 7th of June. It´s a little ways off but I´ll take it. I´m really excited to work with this family!

After all of our lessons we were tired and hungry because we still hadn´t eaten or taken a break so we called Miguel and asked if we could visit him and make pancakes at his place. He said okay so we went over there and made some tasty pancakes and homemade syrup with him and two friends, Fabian and Sebastian. As I was cooking I managed to break a glass jar full of powdered sugar and a different glass mug. Sorry Miguel. All in all a very good week!! Really slow at the beggining but sped up at the end.

Oh! Also Elder Richards gave a very good talk on Sunday!

Today we were in the Plaza de Armas and there were a couple people singing in the pavilion so we went to check it out and as were listening a couple of guys came up to us and started asking us where we were from and things like that because one of them was from Utah and another from Idaho. They said they were here for a wrestling tournament and everything. And I was like what in the world are a couple of guys doing here in Chile for a wrestling tournament and how did they get invovled in that? Turns out it was the US wrestling team... That´s how they got involved in wrestling tournaments in other countries! Haha so that was pretty cool to talk to them. One served in Alabama but spanish speaking so he said he has kind of been able to guide them around haha

I hope you had as good of a week as me! Til next time!

Elder Gunnell

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Six Weeks

So today were transfers! We found out Saturday that both of us would be staying which wasn´t much of a surprise! It should be a good six weeks because we have been able to get to the area more and hopefully we can have a little bit more luck!

Let´s see what happened this week......

Oh to start off we had splits with out district leaders. This was actually the second time but I went to their area again and once again I feel lucky to be in the city with a fancy ´ol apartment and everything. One of the reasons being they had forgot to buy gas so we had to shower in cold water which wasn´t as bad as I thought but I still like my warm showers! Haha I am spoiled here. Also in the morning for our exercises we did all sorts of dumb P90x type of junk which left me sore for like three days. I really gotta get going on that so I don´t stay out of shape haha. But that was Wednesday.

Then Saturday came a long and guess what! Elder Oaks came to our mission!! We had a conference with him in the morning! It was wonderful, he is so full of energy and taught with so much power. And he made quite a few jokes so we all got a good laugh too. We got to shake hands with him and his wife and Elder Zaballos and his wife and another seventy. I felt so ready to go after that conference. It´s amazing the kind of the spirit that his has. It seems to just radiate from his body. 

After the conference we had one of the most successful Saturdays, if not THE most successful saturday of my mission. Every where we went we were able to find someone. Whether it was a new investigador, less active, or someone we had already been teaching. We didn´t even have time to rest cause we were bouncing from lesson to lesson! We found a new family too!! I was so excited!

Then Sunday came a long and in the morning the second counselor called and told Elder Richards that he would need to give a talk if the ward mission leader didn´t show up to church. Elder Richards went into a frenzy for 20 minutes trying to write a ten minute talk. When we got there the bishop told him don´t worry about it because there was a counselor from the stake who would take care of it, he calmed down a little bit afterwards. Then the funnest thing happened!(a little sarcastic) We went into our Gospel Principles class and one of the counselors in the bishopric came up to me and said, ¨Hey the teacher hasn´t shown up so can you teach the class?¨ I was like yeah sure that´s fine! So he handed me the book and sent me up front and told the class that I would be teaching, I was thinking it would be like the plan of salvation or something like that but to my wonderful surprise the lesson was on Abraham and the covenant that God made with him and his people. So that was a blast:) Hahaha I think overall it went decent but it would have been fine if I had had like 5 or ten minutes to at least look at the lesson to see how deep it went and such but oh well!

After church we had ANOTHER day just like Saturday! Full of lessons and finding people! We found a mother and her daughter who had got to know missionaries like two years back. And the daughter had invited a friend who is really interested! I´m excited to see what progress they can make.

Today we went for a little walk and were doing a little shopping for Elder Richards. I spoiled myself with two donuts from Dunkin´ Donuts and a hot chocolate! And then Elder Richards made a peach cobbler which was mighty tasty!!

That was my week! Hope you all had a wonderful week too!

Love always,
Elder Gunnell

Monday, April 13, 2015

Playing Tourist

Well I´ve got to say sorry because I will be cutting this email a little short because I didn´t get a around to writing a lot this last week. 

So this week I was asked to teach our district class on Wednesday. I was a little nervous because what do I have to tell missionaries that have been out here for a whole lot more time than me? I was glad the subject was something that I have a little knowledge about. I taught about Family History. I did a little research last week and I was working on my little booklet that we have that´s called ¨My Family¨. In my class I shared a story about Francis Wilson Gunnell (his story can be found on familysearch and I thought it was super cool) and I shared some things about Grandpa Burke. Overall I think it went pretty well. I talked decently enough in spanish that I´m pretty sure they understood me! Haha

We have an investigator whose name is Oscar. He is very intelligent and is always ready to learn more. He has a baptismal date for the 26th of this month. But this week he cancelled on us three times and we haven´t really been able to talk to him very much. He came to church so I think everything is okay. We have taught him all the lessons and he understands it all so he would be ready for his baptism but I´m afraid he doesn´t have a testimony. He knows it all but I don´t know if he has truly recieved an answer. I´m afraid to baptize someone if they still lack their own testimony so we will see what´s up this week!

What we really need here is to find more people to teach. We have basically been teaching the same people and they aren´t progressing. It´s kind of disheartening sometimes but we are gooing to try some new things this week hopefully!

That´s about it for this week. We have transfers this upcoming week and a trip to the temple with the mission which I´m very excited about! Have a fantastic week.

Happy birthday shout out to Wolford!

Over and out,
Elder Gunnell

 This was sweet! Miguel (Elders Quorum Pres.) told us a few places to go check out yesterday so that´s what we did today. We went and toured some of the older parts of Santiago and it was so pretty. All the streets and plants and apartments with little sandwich shops and bakeries. I loved it. He also told us to go get some ice cream in this little shop pictured above. Turns out it is one of the top 25 ice cream parlors in the world. Or so they say. But I´d agree, it was delicious. I tried Raspberry mint with Chocolate Avellana. I have no idea what avellana means in english but it was wonderful!
 So to start off this P-day we went to a place called Santa Lucia. It´s like a hill in downtown Santiago that has like a castle built on it, pretty neat.
 A view from above.

 This is a panorama of our area, all we have are buildings, a little different than Catemu.

 A little park that is half way up the hill. A picture from the ¨summit¨. It´s not a very big hill but still cool.

The waterfall that is in the park.

 Waterfall again, this time you can see the ¨summit¨.

 I wanted to get a selfie with me and my area, but the sun was in my eyes so this is what you get... Sorry
Then I needed to cut my hair so we talked to a member and they said there was a nice little place around the corner from where they lived. I don´t know if we went to the right place but I am so glad we went. This little old man owns this little hair dressing shop. He is 85 years old and still going strong. He has been doing hair for 57 years and we just had a great time together, there was no way I could leave without taking a photo. Funnest and funniest hair cut of my life. This old man is a legend in my book. Thank you Octavio.

This reminded ​me of Harney´s Peak in South Dakota, but it wasn´t nearly as cool as South Dakota. But I had a nice little session of reminiscing (I have no idea how to spell that).

We made some cinnamon rolls with the Elders Quorom President, Miguel(he`s awesome), and man were they tasty. As always
Also with Miguel we made soft tacos! Oh how I miss mexican food. I`d do anything for a Beto`s burrito...

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Growing Testimony

This week I have really been able to see growth in my testimony. For the last week and a half we had really been focusing on General Conference. We did it in quite a few different ways but after each lesson I felt my testimony get a little bit more firm. To some people we taught the Restoration and how God has always called prophets because he loves his children, we talked about the power and authority that the prophets had, then we would explain how God has once again called a prophet and that he has the exact same power and authority. With others we watched the video ¨He Lives¨ and we would talk about the truthfulness of Christ´s life and that he truly lives. Sometimes we would talk about the relationship between Christ´s live and what the prophets if the Book of Mormon foretold hundreds of years before and how they truly had the Spirit of God with them to be able to prophesy of things like that and that we were prophets called by God. We sometimes would share a quote from President Monson that my companion found that says, ¨... I assure you that the Chrch is in good hands... Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we serve, is ever at the helm.¨ If Christ came to the Earth and if he died of us and if he rose from the grave then surely he guides and directs this church so that his sheep can come unto him and participate in his love. And I do know that he did come to Earth, that he did die for us, that he did rise from the grave and that he lives. I know that he is literally at the helm of this church and just like what Elder Neil L. Anderson quoted from President Monson yesterday, ¨We watch him open doors we cannot open, we see miracles we could not imagine.¨ He is there and is doing His work in His own time through His servants.

I´ve been happily surprised to feel my testimony deepen on these few things that I mentioned. As I watched conference I kept these things in mind and it was the first time I really got into Conference and understood the importance of their messages. I am so grateful that we get to hear inspired messages from our Church leaders every six months.

In the mission I have been constantly chasing something, there hasn´t ever been a time, up to now, when I have been able to just sit back and relax. For example, I used to be chasing the language (not that I speak perfect spanish). I use to say that the mission would be easy when I could understand what people said to me or it would be easy when I could talk fluently enough to manage myself out on the streets. Now I know that that is not necessarily true. Yes maybe I can understand people now but other hard things have come and more are still to come. I´ve learned to be grateful for the hard things that pass. There is a song we always listen to that says, ¨give me mountains to climb because I know it´s taking me higher.¨ There will always be mountains in my mission and in our lives but when a mountain comes that looks too high to climb do we ever stop to look at the view and see how high we already are? And see the progress we´ve made to get to where we are now at?

I say all this because the last couple of weeks have not been easy and the mountain I was trying to climb seemed to just get bigger and bigger. But during this Conference I got to thinking about where I was six months ago and where I am now. Six months ago I was struggling to understand just two things from each conference speaker. I was honestly thinking, though I wouldn´t have admitted it at the time, that I would never learn or understand spanish and that I would never be able to be a real missionary (to name two things). But as I thought about this during this conference I saw that I was able to climb those mountains and that knowledge gave me hope and motivation that I can climb this mountain that I am currently climbing and I can make it to the tops of those that come.

We didn´t do anything terribly exciting for Easter although I did make and eat hard boiled eggs so that counts for something. I mad dog food (muddie buddies for anyone who does not belong to my odd but wonderful family) and a peanut butter bar to share with those at Conference.

There were a number of talks I really liked but I´ll share some of my favorite lines! They might not be word for word but are more or less what I got out of the line:

President Eyring´s first talk: By fasting we will have greater ability to recieve personal revelation and we will be stronger when temptation comes.
Elder L. Tom Perry: The older I get the more I realize that the family is the center of life, that it is the key to happiness.
Elder Bednar(sat. in the afternoon): Christ overcame, overcomes, and always will overcome the worldly fears if we edify ourselves on his rock.
Wilford W. Anderson: I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music.
Elder Cook: I loved when he said at the end of his talk that he knows the Lord´s voice.
Elder Ballard(in the Priesthood session): His whole talk was incredible but he asked a couple questions and I think we would all do good by asking ourselves the same questions.
Rosemary M Wixom: ¨You´re not so much in the dark as you think¨ and ¨Come, we want you in whatever stage you are at, we´ll meet you there.¨
Jose A. Teixiera: Make time to set aside our mobile devices. It will enrich and broaden our view of life.
Gérald Causse: Never tire of discovering and redescovering the truthfulness of the gospel.
Brent H. Nielson: We are all prodigal sons. We all fall short and we all need God´s love. He watches, hopes for, and waits for us.
Elder Holland: Need I say more? It was a beautifully powerful talk.
President Uchtdorf: Grace is the gift of God to us. Obeying his commandments is the act of reaching out our hands to recieve the gift of grace.
Kevin W. Pearson: The Book of Mormon is key to spiritual survival. Cling to truth. Study the Book of Mormon every day, every day, every day. Don´t be distracted and decieved. The great and spacious building is filled with people who seem to have it all.

Those a just a few points that stood out to me! Also it was really cool to see Elder Zeballos in Conference because he came to the MTC when we were all there and we gave him a hug and talked with him then he came for our Christmas thing we did so we have been able to see him and interact with him and then he showed up in Conference! So that was pretty cool!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! A nice big shout out to Marshall for winning the egg throwing contest this year. I didn´t hear anything about a wheel-barrel race so did we give that tradition up after only one year? Bummer... 

Oh! It was about a year ago when I opened my call!! Crazy don´t you think?

Thank you for you letters! We´ll talk next week!

Elder Gunnell

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Well we are heading around the corner for General Conference!!! Woohoo!! I am so excited to listen to the Prophet and his apostles. I am even more excited to understand what they are saying this time around since the last time I didn´t really catch much! Haha but I´ve been trying to read and listen to their talks since they gave them and I really liked them! 

This week was a little bit better! We are getting to know more people and how to manage our time a little better. But it is still really really really slow in the morning and the afternoon because no one is in their houses. We have gone to just about every building in our area I´m pretty sure so I think the people at the receptions are getting a little tired of us so we´ve got to start calling people and planning lessons over the phone which is definitely a hit and miss kind of tactic but we will see how it goes this week!

This last Saturday we had a service project in the city Curacaví. I think there was three zones of missionaries that went and the Young Adults from all around Santiago. There was a huge old field with tons and tons of garbage so we left our house at 7, got working around 9:30, at lunch at 2, worked again, then got home at about 6. We basically cleared the whole entire field of garbage. It shocked me how much we did. When we first pulled in I had no hope that we would be able to make the place look good again. But at the end of the day, I was shocked to see how clean it looked. Now we just gotta get the people to stop throwing their trash away there. It was actually pretty fun and a change to our normal routine. 

We actually found a family this week!!!!!!!!!!!!! We got a reference through email which is a little weird because it had never happened to us before. We decided to go to the building and see if we could have some luck and talk to the person. We talked to the mom and she said to call later that night to talk to the daughter who was who we were looking for. I called later that night and was able to talk to the daughter. Turns out she was born in Florida because her parents lived there and so she learned English as her native language, it was super weird talking to someone in English over the phone. Anyways she has lived here for a long time and speaks super good Spanish but is losing her English. She was in contact with a member awhile back who said he was going to send missionaries to her house so they could practice English with her and teach her a little bit more about his gospel. We got to know the whole family and are going back to their house today! I don´t know if she just wants free English lessons or if we will be able to make progress with them! Hopefully the latter.

As you might know the church came out with a new video for Easter, I´m excited to use the video because it is very pretty and helps us realize that Christ did live and still lives today. We have been able to have some pretty powerful lessons with the video so far and hope to be able to utilize it in a good way and help some people to progress! Also don´t forget to share the video with everyone!

Dad I am extremely jealous of you trip to Moab and that was just mean to send me a picture of your bike next to the sign of my very favorite trail in Moab. I hope you know that when I get back I would like to re-learn how to mountain bike very quick and head to Moab in the fall. So put that on your calendar. Haha

That´s it for this week! Please love every second of conference and send me your favorite one liners and quotes!

Elder Gunnell

P.S. For those of you that asked, I could use some Mapleine because they don´t sell that here and so when I run out I won´t be able to make yummy syrup or the cream for my cinnamon rolls...:)

I wanna send pics of the families from Catemu.
 Maria Paz

 Second counselor Jose Luis, Angelina and their two kids
 President Gonzales
 Adela and her aunt and cousin
 Juana and Christian. Not present: Manuel the baby and Victor the dad
 Carolina, Martina and Alexia
 Anna, Cecilia and Patricio (Pato Salsa)
 Patricio, Brian and Claudia
 Susana and Yuri

 This is Liduina and her daughter

Slow Days, Fast Weeks

That´s how I feel it´s been the last two weeks. Elder Bennett use to tell me that all the time and I feel it is very true! 

I still can´t get my head around the fact that I am in the city but I still love it. Well I like the being in the city part, doing missionary work is a little bit harder. We don´t get lost and I love being able to know the streets and the names so that we can help other lost people out haha

We´ve been working super hard this week with the President of the Elder´s quorum, he is an awesome guy(he is actually moving to Utah this November, at least those are the plans for now), we have had his help and quite a bit of help from other people in the ward. 

We were able to figure out a baptism date for one of the investigators that the Sisters had. He has been coming to church for three months, reads the manuals for the classes, the Book of Mormon, understands it all but I think he lacks a firm answer or a testimony that the things are true. We are going to go to General Conference with the date in mind so we can see if he feels like it is the right time for him.

Speaking of General Conference, I am stoked! Hopefully I´ll be able to catch a couple more things in Spanish this time. We are really focusing on prophets in our lessons so that we can help our investigators feel that we have guidance in these days and that they can know for themselves when they come to the General Conference sessions.

Yesterday five investigators came to church which was fantastic! We are working with them and getting married because they can´t have a baptism date until they are married obviously.. So we will see how it goes. 

Nothing extremely exciting happened this week but we are making progress! We aren´t the best teachers(under statement) but we are learning which is the important thing and it´s a very fun learning process. 

Thank you for the emails and letting me know how everything is going! I´ll talk to you next week!

Elder Gunnell
You will not believe what I found!!!!!!!!!!! I love Santiago!!!!!!!!!!!
Project number two! Just some blueberry muffins, they don´t look super pretty but taste amazing.
Just a dumb sunset pic with some broken glass from a building, no they didn´t let us in their apartment.