Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feliz Navidad 2014

December flew by in a blur

We spent our days:

*Working with the missionaries to share the message He is the Gift -

*Traveling the mission for interviews with 238 amazing missionaries like these two -

*Making paper Christmas trees -

*Decorating our home for the holidays with this group -

*Caroling -

*Seeing a favorite former missionary who came back to visit - 

*Checking out the office Christmas tree. Hermana Wynn & Hermana Kauer made an ornament for each missionary. I LOVE this tree!

*Gathering a family photo for each of our missionaries and making them into a video to show at our Christmas Conference -

*Making a ring for each missionary out of a baby coconut that we gathered from a tree on the Concepcion temple grounds -

Baking sugar cookies for a zone meeting and chocolate chip cookies for a ward party -

*Attending a few wonderful Christmas concerts -

*Having a Christmas conference with all 238 young missionaries and 12 senior missionaries -

*Caroling at the hospital - 

*Enjoying every minute we got to spend with the Mills family -

*Having a fun Christmas day activity with the missionaries - 

*Having interviews, dinner and a final testimony meeting with these faithful missionaries before taking them to the airport for their return home -

*And picking up this awesome new group of missionaries -

*Having lunch and visiting with the families who came to pick up their missionaries -

*And celebrating our 1/2 way mark -

We really, really love our mission and are grateful for each day we get to spend here in Concepcion.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Playing Favorites

We recently had a mission wide conference where all 238 young missionaries and 10 senior missionaries got together. In the 18 months we have been here this was the first time we have all been together. It was so much fun.

At the end of each conference our tradition is to have the Elders and Sisters who will be going home before the next transfer share their final testimony with us. We had a group of 11 missionaries leaving just one week later and two more missionaries leaving in the next couple of weeks.

As the first Elder got up to share his testimony, I thought - Oh no, not Elder B. He's my favorite! He works so hard and really, really loves everyone. He can't go home. Then the next one got up and I thought - Oh no, not Elder C. He's my favorite. He has given his heart and soul to his service. He loves being a missionary. He can't go home! And so it continued with every Elder and Hermana that shared their testimony. We love every one of them so much and I wondered what I was going to do when they all went home at once. Then as I looked down into the faces of the other 225 missionaries I started seeing other favorites and soon realized that they were ALL my favorites!  Every single one of them! We have the best young missionaries and the best senior couples. We are so grateful for the blessing to serve here with each of them. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We're Flexible

 Here on the mission we have come to expect the unexpected. We make great plans but they often get changed because when you have 240 "kids" there's bound to be a surprise or two each day.  We have learned to be flexible and we joke about it so much that our assistants gave me this shirt for Christmas last year.

We always get a notification a few months in advance about the new missionaries we will be getting. Tuesday was transfer day and we were getting nine new missionaries. We were prepared with nine trainers, and nine areas for our new missionaries to serve in. The nine included six new elders and we didn't have any elders go home this transfer so we needed to open new areas, get new houses set up with beds, dishes, etc...  As the new missionaries were collecting their baggage we were counting heads to make sure they all made it. 1, 2 ,3 .... 8, 9, 10! What? Yep, we got a bonus elder :)  Good thing we're flexible.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls - The Cure for Homesickness

General Conference is when I feel the most homesick. I love all of our conference traditions. I love going to the Women's Meeting with the girls in our family. I love watching conference with my family and playing conference bingo with the grandkids. I love our family home evening after conference where everyone gets to share a talk that was special to them. And I love our Saturday morning conference breakfast with all our family. We always have eggs, hash browns, peach french toast, bacon and juice. Yummy! Conference morning just hasn't been the same without it. We thought about inviting all 238 of our missionaries over for breakfast but our home just isn't big enough so we did the next best thing. We got up early on Saturday and made 125 cinnamon rolls and delivered them to the missionaries who live close by. The missionaries were so excited and we didn't have time to feel homesick. Maybe it will become a new tradition :)

These Elders were painting the home of a recent convert.

These Hermanas were at the church for the Women's Broadcast
and took enough to share with all who were there.

As an added tender mercy - 
The next morning we had to tell one of our Hermanas that her Grandpa has terminal cancer and doesn't have long to live. We had a few cinnamon rolls left and took a plate to her and her companion. What we didn't know, but God did, was that it was a tradition in her family to have cinnamon rolls on conference morning. It was a sweet confirmation of Heavenly Father's love for her.

18 de Septiembre

September 18th is Independence Day here in Chile and boy do we know how to celebrate. It is a huge holiday, even bigger than Christmas.  They celebrate for an entire week and everything is closed for at least two days, including all grocery stores. EVERYONE celebrates. Our stake celebrated from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.! They started with a flag ceremony followed by a young couple dancing the Cueca, the national dance of Chile.

MAH07121 from Michele Arrington on Vimeo.

Next we headed outside for lots of games including a tug of war. Somehow the four of us senior missionary sisters got roped into going against the Chilean sisters. It was no contest! We are a bunch of wimps!! Our companions went next and redeemed the gringos :)

MAH07158 from Michele Arrington on Vimeo.

After jumping rope for a minute and before we could get roped into the gunny sack races we headed for home. The other senior couples who are living in the city of Concepcion came over to try out our brand new gas grill. We had a yummy lunch and then headed back over to the church. Each of the five wards in the stake had prepared a dance to share with us. Everyone (but us) had on the traditional costumes and it was so fun to watch the dances.

Later we went with the Baldens and the Kauers to a rodeo in Chillan. Most of the rodeos here have only one event. The arena is divided into two sections - a smaller area and a bigger area. They let a cow into the small area and two guys on horses have to get it to circle the area three times. They try to keep the cow close to the wall by blocking it with their horses. It was cool to watch the horses skip sideways. After the third time around they open the gate and and they all go out into the bigger arena. The cowboys take the cow around the arena keeping him as close to the wall as they can. When they get to a certain spot they ram the cow into the wall with their horse then turn around and head for  spot B and ram him into the wall there. They turn him around again and head back to spot A for one final ramming. Made me feel really bad for the cows. Sometimes they just laid down and wouldn't get back up until one of the workers came over and pulled their tail.

MAH07235 from Michele Arrington on Vimeo.

Chile is very patriotic and there were flags flying everywhere. Nearly every home and business had a flag. Many cars were also decorated with red, white and blue. We feel very blessed to live in such a wonderful country.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Psalms 19:1

The view out our window last night

The heavens declare the glory of God; 
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Missionaries and members all throughout Chile worked together this morning serving their communities. We joined with 80 of our missionaries in cleaning up the cemetery here in Concepcion.  The cemetery is HUGE (about 28 hectares, which is about 70 acres). We worked hard for about three hours and we barely scratched the surface.

Admittedly I don't get out much, but the cemetery was very different than anything I have ever seen in the United States. It was started in 1846, making it 168 years old. There are mausoleums, vaults, temporary niches (where they can be buried for six months to 20 years.  I'm not sure where they go after that :)  There is also a Jewish section where the people are buried underground. In total there are about 34,590 people buried there!!  Most of the graves are family graves with several people buried together.

 It was fascinating and I hope these pictures will help me to always remember it.

I think this may be the section where the Jews are buried.

The missionaries thought it was cool that some of the graves had the same
photos that are in the pamphlets they give out.

I think this is the section where the poor are buried.

All of them are buried in the same vault.

One of the oldest graves in the cemetery.

There were several graves that were broke. I think some of the damage
is from the big earthquake in 2010.

You can come here and light a candle and ask a Saint for a miracle.

There is a long wall of these little tiles thanking the Saint
for the miracle.