My new home in the mountains-- Coyhaique
I´m looking forward to when I can just tell you EVERYTHING about missionary life in Chile. I feel like I only get so little information through.
Coyhaique is nice. They have a nice chapel (but it doesn´t have a synthesizer like the ones in Puerto Montt). The congregation strayed a smidge from the written music and there´s not a strong sense of time, but I suppose that´s how a lot of branches are in the world (small congregations).
This last Sunday was really good in that lots of investigators and less active members showed up. We had FOUR investigators (2 from each sector) in Gospel Principles class! A quick glance at the computer in the clerk´s office told me there are about 1250 members in the branch, so there´re a lot of inactive members (average 62 attending). From my experience, many inactive members leave because a member offended them. That just seems so backwards to me! It´s counterproductive! It´s self-defeating! Why punish yourself for what someone else said? Why prohibit yourself from heavenly blessings because of something someone else did?
Another obstacle is that being married in Chile is against the norm. When two people love each other, they just live together. A young married sister in the ward told me people discriminated her more for being married than for being Mormon. We have an investigator who has been attending church for 3 years but isn´t baptized because she lives with a daughter and a man who´s happens to be an inactive member. He has nothing against the church, but he really resists the idea of marrying.
I want to tell you about a woman we met. We were walking down the street and my companion saw something in the way she glanced at us (she was walking in the other direction). She had already passed us and was behind us when my companion turned around and said ¨Sister! We want to give you something!” We gave her a mormon.org card but she told us she´s already a member. She lives alone with a 24 year old daughter. The daughter is pregnant and her boyfriend left her. She also has 3 other kids grown and gone, one of which has been in jail in Santiago for several years. Her mom died and her dad has mental problems. She and her daughter both smoke. We gave her a plan to stop smoking and she´s been so excited about quitting smoking :D She´s slipped a few times, but she´s improving a ton! She´s been very adamant about attending church (even if she needs to walk a half hour to get there) and she bore her testimony in sacrament meeting. She´s an example of someone prepared by the Lord :D
I love you all :D ChaoElder Christopherson