Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Greatest Adventure

First I`d like to talk about this last week then the upcoming week and a little testimony!

The best news that I have of the last week is that my comp and I gave our last talks in Chile on Sunday! It was a very bittersweet moment. Before getting up and speaking I got to thinkin about it all, I can`t believe I won`t be sitting in a chapel here in Chile in a week. To be here with these people in this ward seems so... So normal, so comfortable, so wonderful! But I know it`s time to leave. I promised to be here two years and they've come to an end! I can`t change that now. I do feel like it is time for me to progress outside of the mission as well. The irony of the mission is that you really start to figure everything at towards the end. The good news is that the end has been the best and most powerful part of my mission! To illustrate that a little bit better I have a small experience! I was knocking (when I say knocking I mean yelling at a door because everyone has gates and you just have to yell ¨alo¨ really loud so they hear you and come outside) at a door and a woman came out a little upset and definitely a little annoyed with me and snottily asked me what I wanted. I told her who I was and why I was here and what we do as missionaries. As I told her a little about what we teach about Christ and the family I shared with her a tiny testimony of mine and they way things in her life can change! I literally saw her attitude change in her face and she accepted a visit by us.

At the beginning of my mission I don`t think that would have happened because I wouldn`t have been able to have shared such a small sweet testimony that was as sincere as the one I shared with her. I don`t know if I`ve ever actually shared such a sincere personal testimony like that since it was here in Chile when I really started to develop my own.

Faustin our Haitian friend is going to be baptized this Sunday!!! What a wonderful surprise! I am so excited to be a part of that! If you need something to pray about or for, pray for Faustin!!!

We had, like always, a wonderful family home evening last night. They best one yet actually! All of Juana`s family was there and lots of people more! I will miss those family nights but I`m excited to be with my own family on Monday nights here soon!

Because there are so many missionaries going home in my group President didn`t want to do all the last interviews on the same day so he called in about half of us yesterday morning and we had our last interviews with him. It was unreal to be in that last one with him! I remember my first like it was just yesterday... 

This upcoming week will FLY by!!!! This Thursday President has invited our zone and one other zone to a special p-day in the mission home to play volleyball and soccer and what not and have a bbq because we were the hardest working zone in this transfer period. I am soo happy for this. Zapadores (the zone I`m in) was the worst zone in the mission for a long long time but with the help of the AMAZING missionaries here we have been able to turn that reputation 100% around!!! Now we are being recognized as one of the best zones and the hardest working. What a miracle! I am so happy to be able to end with our zone like that! Should be a real fun day!

I have never been happier! I truly wish that everyone could feel as I feel right now. Finishing my mission gives me such a gratifying and satisfying feeling. I can`t help but smile!! I`ve never accomplished something so big, hard, long, or something that has required such effort. Being a missionary is the best experience in the world!! I don`t want to make it sound like the mission was terrible or too hard or anything like that because it`s not like that at all! Haha it is the funnest thing but it requires work! I know that God knows what`s best for each of us. He takes us to our limits and then asks for a step of faith, and those are the steps of faith that change us. They changed me. I love this work and this gospel and I know there are so many people out there that need it! May we always be looking for them to be able to share the light that we have!

I am so so grateful for and will always be in debt to all those who have written and supported me in this journey. Your letters were not in vain! I treasure them all! Thank you for your kind words, prayers, gifts, and love. Soon enough I`ll hug the life out of all you so you can know that I mean these things that I`m saying!!

Jesus Christ is our Savior and our way back to our Heavenly Father with our eternal families. There is no other way. I know he has is hands outstretched with unconditional love. He loves you! With Christ there are no ends, no lasting sadness or downs. With Christ everything is optimistic! God loves us and has blessed us with a Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who can lead us to safety and peace in a fallen world. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is THE true church. 

My mission is the greatest thing to happen in my life up to this point. It`s so surreal that it`s ending.

I can`t help but repeat it but I have never been happier!!

See you next Tuesday!!!
This is what he sent on Drey's Birthday
 Went on a little hike

 A fence of trays
 A lone flower
  A public bathroom....

 The zone!!

 Zone party in the Alcantara house!!
  The class for those leaving on Monday! See you on Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 That`s how streets are left after a flea market! See the lil taxi pulling 2 trailers? 

 They just cut ALL the branches off the trees in front of our house! Now they look awful and we`ll probs die from lack of oxygen!!

 This is the smog that has been in the sky for like the last month or so! Realllly gross and really bad air. Fortunately it rained this last weekend! 
  Those are the mountains that were finally uncovered since the rain took away the smog
here is a man that somehow manages to drink 24 hours a day. We really respect him for that feat. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2... The Taunting Two‏

Well it`s just winding right on down whether we like it or not!!

The highlight of this week was when a 7 year old punched my comp in the face for putting her massive barbie doll on the roof (pictures will be sent to the blog)!! Haha it was priceless. It wasn`t just like a little slap or anything, it was a knuckle sandwich. She justed decked the heck out of him. Hahahaha it was soo funny!

We learned kinda how to weld in a service project! We built a bed. I`m not very good at it but I had never done it before so that was to be expected!! It was cool though, I want to get better at it that`s for sure!

Juana talked to her mom and invited us to do our weekly Family Home Evening in her house!! It went fantastic. Gosh I love these people. I love them so much. I wish and hope the best for them. I know it will be hard to say goodbye but it will be worth it to be able to say hello to my real family. I can`t wait!

It`s a shorty today! But I would like to invite everyone to watch a short little video! It`s very true how sometimes are aspirations or expectations are different than what really happens. Mine were different than what I thought they would be here in the mission but I too promise that our Heavenly Father will always give us just what we need. He has a perfect plan for each of us!

Here`s the video link: 

See you soon!!!!!!
 Learning to weld!

 I`m not much of a dog person but the dogs are bayler people so.... #migorrito​

 ​A gift from the sweet girl that decked my comp!​
Uh oh!​

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3! Three!!‏

Here we are... Three letters left and counting. Every day I believe it less and less! I felt like last weeks letter was a real good one which means this one can be a little less entertaining right? Haha

Juana was confirmed this week! And the mom of the family that was reactivated last week was called as a primary teacher this week!! So we are very very happy about that miraculous progress. The ward were I am now is just blooming like a flower in spring time. Every week just keeps getting better and better! I love being here. It will be a heart wrencher to leave:/ but the joy over weighs the sadness! Haha I just hope that everything keeps progressing like it is! Especially here in the zone. The missionaries that are here right now are THE BEST, they are top-notch and I love ´em to death. They are such great, good people and will all do amazing things in their lives I`m sure. 

We are working with another Haitian, Faustin. He actually has been coming to church for months now and we attempted to teach him but it never really worked out so we stopped trying as much then after some time he called us and just said that we need to meet up so that we can teach him so that he can be baptized like his cousin Wesly (the one that got baptized last month) so that way he is ready when Christ comes! He said he doesn`t want to die and go see God and have God tell him that Wesly, Mersence (another Haitian friend), Elder Catlett and Elder Gunnell are going to heaven but that he can`t. Haha he is really funny about it but in the end has all the desire in the world to be baptized now! He has a date for the 24th of this month! We are just as excited as him and hope that all goes well so that it can happen in this time frame!

This week I pulled a prank and had a prank pulled on me so that was just karma and absolutely hilarious! I sent my mom some pics so they should be up on the blog! Someone filled my waterbottle up with dog food and salt!! It was gross but soo funny. Loved it! Luckily I noticed something was weird and didn`t drink out of it!

Today we had our zone activity! We were able to reserve some spots in a session in the temple for this morning so we all went as a zone which was great as you can imagine! Then we got permission from our President to go out to eat as a zone WITH our dear sister missionaries which was a HUGE shocker because that is not allowed at all in our mission but he came to our district class last week and gave us the okay! So we went to a realllllly pretty italian restaurant that we all loved! It was a success to say the least!:)

That`ll be all for now folks! See you in 20 days!!! Haha

Your very happy,
Elder Gunnell

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4. Fourth of July! also... 4 weeks and counting down.‏

I love love love just absolutely love seeing the power of conversion in people´s lives. Seeing the way the Gospel changes a persons life is like watching fire or a waterfall or Messi making goals or Lebron James throwing a buzzer beater to win the game, you never get tired of it. Juana was one of these cases. When we first showed up at her house it seemed as if it were pointless to come back because we were told that she, nor anyone in the house, would even go to church! Much less get baptized. Look were we are now, just a couple months later (I think...) and she was baptized yesterday! And that decision had NOTHING TO DO WITH US. I remember the day she told us she was going to go to church. It was a shocker. I remember the day when we re-invited her to really have a conversation with Heavenly Father with real intent and ask for an answer, whether or not this church was true and if she should be baptized. The next day went over to her house and she sat us down and said that she had something to tell us. She told us of her experience and her prayer to God. She told us of her answer and shared her small but powerful testimony that she knew that this was true and was sure that baptism was her next step. She quickly accepted and adapted herself to all Gospel Principles and was baptized this last Sunday. To say it was a powerful conversion and an uplifting baptism experience would be an understatement.

I may or may not have had the strongest testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints two years ago but in this time here in Chile I have obtained a sure knowledge that Heavenly Father loves us and that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He loved and loves us enough to have sent his son Jesus Christ to suffer and pay for our sins. I know that He has always called prophets to lead and guide and show His love to his children. I know that we are not an exception to this pattern. God still loves us and to show that love heonce againcalled a Prophet, Joseph Smith. Through the Prophet Joseph He was able to restore this beautiful Church! I know there is a LIVING prophet in our day, today! I am positive that if there is anyone out there looking for God you can find it here, it´s only a prayer away. Juana did it so do many others around the world. It´s amazing to me that people from Australia to Japan to Ohio can all come to the very same conclusion, coincidence? I think not. It´s truth! And it´s wonderful!!

Along with Jauna´s fantastic baptism we were able to create a little friendship between her and a less active woman named Olga. With Olga´s support and vice versa Olga was able to become reactivated and shared a powerful message with Juana in her baptism! It has been great to see Olga and her daughter return to church in the last couple of months and support Olga´s husband Max who has been faithful assisting church since their baptisms two years ago.

I had a very sad but exciting moment this week. Last Thursday was my very last Zone Conference in the mission. In these conferences the new missionaries get up and introduce themselves in the best Spanish they can muster if they are new to the language and answer a few questions. At the end of the Conference there is a little testimony meeting where all the missionaries that will go home before the next conference are called up to the stand to give their last testimonies in front of the mission President, his wife, and all other missionaries present. I remember my first zone conference, barely just barely understanding a few words of spanish and I saw my first trainer get up there and say goodbye. In the moment I wanted to cry because I never thought I could do it. This time it was my turn. I cannot explain the feeling of joy, sadness, pride, and accomplishment that I felt as I sat on the stand waiting for my turn. I´ve almost done it! I have never been so proud of myself for accomplishing something. It seemed like such a huge mountain to climb. It really was a bittersweet moment but I am so happy. So so SO happy! Happy for the progress I´ve made, for the knowledge I´ve acquired and most importantly my testimony which will shape the rest of my life without a doubt. :) 

I am also so grateful for the people who have supported me on this adventure and for those who have not forgotten me and still write me in my last month! Haha I can´t wait to hug you all in four weeks! I´m excited to keep working here in Chile and I will be sure to ¨sacarle el jugo¨ ¨squeeze the juice out of it¨ as the Chileans would say!

Con mucho amor, paz y felicidad,

Five... Flying Five‏

First and most importantly: Contrary to common belief I was NOT the winner of the ward dessert activity that we did last Friday. Bummer, I know, but ya win some and ya lose some. I usually don`t win but one of these days my luck will come around! Haha no but the activity was a huge success! Tons of desserts arrived and, of course, tons of people! Who doesn`t want to go eat a bunch of amazing desserts? Well some were amazing! Others were. . . a little less than amazing! Haha but it was a real fun time and you could tell it helped the ward out quite a bit!

This week was just a week! It was a good one but nothing too extremely excited happened other than it is really cold! But even with the cold my comp and I got up nice and early and went running yesterday! It was a good little run! We played soccer with the elders of our zone which was great. Definitely lost my touch quite a bit nonetheless we had a good time. We need some more latins because there is only one here right now. One latin, two brazileans, and the rest gringos. We look a little foolish playing but it`s funny!

This week we are planning the baptism of Juana!! So if anyone needs something to fast for you can fast for her!:) she seems pretty excited about it although a little nervous because she is afraid of water but it`s not the first time we`ve encountered that and it can be overcome!! We are trying to plan some sort of luncheon to do afterwards since everyone will be fasting by then. We will see how it goes!

It`s a short letter today! I`ll hopefully have more to say tomorrow! Have a delightful week!!

Over and out,
Elder Gunnell