Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 27, 2014 Its beginning to look a lot like summer....

Hey guys, so in a matter of 2 weeks... it has completely changed seasons here! When I first got here, it was pretty cold and windy and we wore sweaters all the time and a coat sometimes. Its getting super hot here though now. I would way rather be hot than cold though :)  I am already starting to get a GNARLY watch tan line, that after this summer is going to be an eagilzer, I will send a pic don't worry ;) Its great weather here though, even though we still have these massive hills to climb everyday and we get so sweaty. Luckily I have clean clothes to change into... because for the last 18 days I have not had clean clothes.  Okay well it had been 18 days since I washed my clothes in the CCM before we had the chance to wash them here. I was here for over 2 weeks before my companion finally thought we could find some time to drop the clothes off at Hermana Lagos´s house who washes our clothes. And we dropped them off monday and didn`t get them back until friday. And I only kept 1 white shirt and 2 pairs of underwear and 1 pair of socks, because I didnt think it was going to take 5 days to get the clothes back!!!! So I wore the same white shirt the same socks and 2 pairs of garments for 5 days.  Disgusting I know! I had to keep washing one pair of underwear in the shower each day and hang them up to try to wear for the next day, and keep alternating pairs. Its a blessing to have clean clothes now :)

So my companion and I have had the opportunity to give a few priesthood blessing lately. I always do the annointing, and he does the blessing. The first time I did it in English. But now I have started doing it in Spanish. I have the words memorized, and thats not the hard part. The hardest part is remembering the person´s FULL name for the blessing. Because EVERYONE here has 4 names. And its not like easy American names I am used to. Its like crazy hispanic names that I have the hardest time memorizing even just to say it ONCE! haha its great though. Speaking of Priesthood Blessings... (I guess there is a first time for everything right???) because this less active lady in Tumbes asked us if we could give her boat a Priesthood blessing. We were like, well we don't really do that... but we can say a prayer with you for the boat! Because her husband and son were going on a fishing trip and the boat had some problems with it. And this is a super small fishing town, that everyone depends on their boat for their income. because almost everyone is a fisherman there! So we walked out along the pier where the boat was docked, and offered a prayer that Heavenly Father would calm the weather for them that week, and that the boat would work properly according to their faith. And everyone was safe and the boat worked great she said.

Well my trainer Elder Catròn is super experienced and I know that there is a TON I can learn from him, and that I am here for a certain reason... but one thing that I have mixed feelings about are our role play (or practices) each morning.  These are super helpful because we can practice the lesson we are going to teach for that day, but I am always the one teaching him because obviously I need the practice. He pretends like he is some person with a specific need that I need to find and teach the lesson according to his need. He gets so "into the role" and I try my best to find out about his family situation, and work, and religious background, and stuff like that to find the need. After I struggle with the language and try to teach him something... he usually says after the practice, "okay, now why did that lesson suck so bad?" haha I`m like... well let me see maybe it was because I don`t speak spanish, and I can never find your need because he plays the hardest investigator EVER!!!  I feel so hopeless most mornings when we do this, but he tells me what I need to do better, and we repeat this about 3 times until we get it right, or he doesn't want to keep seeing me fail anymore, I'm not sure!  Its pretty frustrating, but the things is that I KNOW having him as my trainer I am going to learn some AWESOME lessons, and I am going to be a far better teacher because of it in the long run. He is a great companion. He just doesn`t have that much patience for when I ask a lot of questions, or have him repeat things because I don't catch them the first time. But its not that bad, my ability to teach, understand, and speak is improving every day!

We had Stake Conference this weekend. Saturday night was the adult session, and there were no more than like 50 or 60 people there. They just talked about like the statistics and numbers of members and less actives, and baptisms and everything in their stake. 2 hours meetings are hard to sit through normally... and when you can hardly understand them, its even worse!  And the sunday session the first speaker talked about scouting for 30 minutus, and the second speaker talked about Relief Society stuff for 30 minutes, then the Mission President and Stake President spoke. I can really understand almost every word that the mission President says, so I understand A TON of spanish, its just that these dang Chileans speak so freaking different! Sister Arrington spoke (in english) and gave a story of where her sister was in Africa for a humanitarian project. They were in a respiratory clinic thing and 3 ladies came in who were right about to deliver their babies. Apparently all of the doctors had left for the day or something, and they told her that if she had any medical training what so ever she was the most qualified for the job. She thought that surely someone else was more qualified, or that someone else would do it. But no one else could, it had to be her. She had a little training, but never on how to deliver a baby. She was so scared, and prayed to Heavenly Father that lives were at stake if she didnt do anything. She told him that she did not know how to do this, but knew that he did! She prayed for guidance and help to do it. She was guided and delivered all these babies healthy and safe. 

She related this experience to missionary work for MEMBERS. That it seams most of the time that we are not the most qualified to share the gospel with someone, or that SOMEONE ELSE WILL DO IT! ... but it has to be us! "Every member a missionary" We need to all get involved in the work of salvation, not just members. Anyway I really liked her talk. Also last night we had this program thing for members who came, and were all supposed to bring non member friends. It was a singing program, where all the missionaries in the Talcahuano Norte, and Sur zones sang and other people in the stake sang, and we passed out pamflets and pass along cards to people after. It was a fun program to be a part of. Well... I am really enjoying it down here, Its obviously SUPER DUPER HARD some times, and SUPER DUPER REWARDING at other times :)

One really neat thing I learned in the scriptures today, was reading in Alma 7:11-13 I have read these versed about the Atonement many many times, but learned something new this week. Not once in there does it mention our sins that Christ suffered for. It only talks about the temptations, the pains, the sicknesses, afflictions, infirmities, etc. And this that he would know how to succor his people according to the flesh. What I realized was that none of these things he suffered for were NECESSARY for us to be able to return back to Heavenly Father´s presence. Only the suffering for our sins was necessary, so why did he suffer for everything else as well? Yes to know how to succor his people. Because when you know EXACTLY how someone feels, you can help them PERFECTLY. But also... it all goes back to the Character of Christ! Turning OUTWARD, not INWARD! I love that message that Elder Bednar spoke on in the MTC. 
And like Neal A. Maxwell said, "There would have been no Atoning sacrifice, without the Character of Christ." I testify that Jesus Christ is our savior, and our redeemer. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Only in and through him can we be saved. Only in and through him can we be healed of our spiritual wounds. I love him so much, and I love learning of him through the scriptures, and the Holy Ghost of course.

Elder Bednar taught we should learn OF Christ, not only ABOUT him. That is what I am trying to do. Because I know by understanding more about Christ, this will make me a far better teacher, and missionary! well... another week has passed, I hope everyone is doing well back home. I am doing great, but just keep praying for the members here in Talcahuano, and all over the world! I Love you guys! Until next week :)

-Elder Hartvigsen

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 20, 2014 I still can't speak Spanish, week 2 in Chile

So another week has come and gone. Some days seem SO LONG, but the week seems to go by quick. So we dont have that many investigators to teach, but we are really working with the members and teaching lots of less actives.

We are working in one area called Tumbes, this tiny little fishing town outside of Talcahuano, and we found Fernando who is less active and was actually baptized a few years ago by  good friend of Elder Catròns from Argentina. CRAZY,  but we had lots of lessons with less actives that we challenged them to come to church and just hoped and prayed they would read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we assigned them, and come to church.

Yesterday we went to go pick up Milta (investigator) for church, we walked about 20 minutes up this huge hill called Buena Vista (like half of Suncrest probably) to get her, and she said she had company and couldn't come anymore... we were kind of bummed and while we were walking to the church this big white van stopped and opened their sliding door like in the movies, and we saw the Bishop in the back with a family of 4 who we taught who were all less actives. They gave us a ride to church, and at church we saw that SEVEN of the less actives were there.... so we were seriouisly so happy! It was pay day for that week! There were like 55 or 60 people in sacrament meeting. like 20 more than last week. I sat next to a less active who came, she is a smoker...  but she was at church (smelling like smoke of course) so I tried not to let it bother me, and it didn't because I was so happy she was there with her son and grandson.

Sitting there in sacrament meeting...  a scripture came to my mind Luke 15:7 you guys should READ IT. It talks about the joy in heaven when one sinner repents! WOW. I just really felt that joy seeing these people make the first big step in returning back to church and the gospel. IT was a happy day!

So.... I think it was friday, we had lunch at Hermana Berta`s house. She is a legend in this area for making a HUGE AMOUNT of food. and its really rude and inappropriate to leave any food on your plate. because they dish up the food and give it to you, and you basically have to eat it all. Her food was delicious, but the most gargantuen proportions you can imagine. We were all in pain after the meal, and it was hard to get it all down. Elder Ospina couldn't finish his ice cream, and I think she was kind of irritated.  It's weird because I don't know how they think we can eat all that food, but its funny anyways.

Uh, we had zone conference last monday and it was great! Also my comp and I did a role play one morning,... and he just made up the role of an investigator and their needs, and the need was someone who was less active but didn't want to come to church because they felt rejected and that people were judging them from things they had done.... NOT EVEN JOKING, later that evening we taught Mauricio.... who is in the EXACT same situation. It's crazy, we were able to help him and we practiced the same thing that morning. The spirit can really inspire even your role play practices. He came to church with his son, and participated in class and the discussions... and I think had a good time! (His mom was the smoker next to me)

My comp spoke in church, and gave an analogy of the movie Lion King to our lives... we are Simba, and Mufasa is Heavenly Father. He gave his life as a sacrifice in the movie (or his son Jesus Christ) and Scar is Satan, and we have to overcome Satan and eventually achieve all that our father has (or be king). It sounds silly... but I think it was a great analogy... especially for the less actives coming back to church.

So, overall it was a great week. Hard?... YES. Long?... YES. Overwelming at times?.... YES but was it all worth it to see 7 people come back to church?....YES!!!

Doctrine and Covenants 18 The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. I cannot stress this enough, I have learned this and felt this so much being here... where every person is equal in the sight of God. He favors the righteous... but loves everyone the same! This is my testimony, that God lives. and we are his children. I also testify of prayer, what an incredible gift it is to talk with our Father in Heaven whenever we want. dont take it for granted! TELL HIM EVERYTHING THATS GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE. HE CARES AND WANTS US TO TALK WITH HIM :)

Our goal by the time we leave this sector... is just simple, that we leave it better than we found it! Whether that is bringing less actives back, retaining the members, or baptizing more people (we need to do all of that actully) as missionaries... we really just need to build up the church where ever we go. "How great is our calling!"

Until next week everyone... I love you all, and you are all in my prayers. Please pray for the members of the church all around the world, and for the missionary work to progress :)

Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014 My first area. Talcahuano, Conce, Chile with my trainer Elder Lucas Catron

HELLO my beloved brethren (and mom) :) I hope everyone is doing well. I am sitting in an internet cafe thing in Concepciòn Chile right now. I have been assigned to work in the city of Talcahuano. Its about a 30 minute bus ride from Conce. It is such a cool city seriously! Its right next to the ocean, which kind of looks like a lake because we are on the edge of this huge bay that opens into the Pacific Ocean. Our apartment is on the second floor and has an ocean view!  sweet right? 

So when I wrote you last I was in the mission office in Conce (concepciòn) and we were having training meetings and stuff. I met with President Arrington, and he is super cool. Then we had the assignment of our areas and companions. My trainer is Elder Lucas Catròn. He is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He looks like a gringo, but is a latin.  He speaks pretty good english although he has a thick accent its kind of funny. His english is hard to understand sometimes... and dont even get me started on his Spanish! He is 20 years old, and this is his last 12 weeks of his mission. He goes home at the end of December. Literally everyone has told me what an awesome trainer and missionary  he is. Elder Kauer (one of the couple missionaries here) kept telling me that Elder Catròn is literally THE BEST they have in this mission! IT doesnt get any better! haha I am seriously so honored to have a veteran companion who is one of the hardest workers in the mission! I know that there will be GREAT things I can learn from Elder Catròn, and that the Lord has me working with him and in this certain area for very specific reasons. I obviously dont know them now... but I have great Trust in the mission presidents ability to receive revelation for me and him, and put us where the Lord wants us! Sister Arrington told me that I better be prepared to WORK HARD, because thats what my trainer does. And we have been working way hard these last few days!!!

so... the first thing I learned this week, is that Chileans DO NOT speak spanish. Im not even kidding... I could understand all the mexicans in the CCM pretty well, but chileans speak WAY differently than they do. Talk about culture shock! They dont say the letter s really. Its CRAZY! and that sounds simple enough but no. haha luckily my comp speaks english pretty well, but he did most of the talking the first day. But after that I was forced to say thing, and just do my best! So we live in an apartment with 4 elders. Elder Ospina from Colombia, Elder Jensen from Texas, and us. 

Our schedule is up at 7, exercise, shower, study until about 11 ish, and out the door working at 11:30 or noon. we just street contact, and knock doors trying to find people to teach for a couple hours until lunch at 1:30. ANd thats the only meal of the day we eat. yeah I know CRAZY! we usually have a banana or a small bowl of cereal (something tiny) for breakfast and then we eat a HUGE lunch every day at a members. Its a massive meal seriously. They usually consist of a salad plate or bowl of soup to start. Then a big main course of rice or meat, or casserole, or really anything. And then after that a big dessert! And they always have coke or juice for us too. After we eat we go back home and have language study for an hour and a half, and then get back to work from 4 to 9:30 pm. That is the longest part of the day! Because since we are opening this area (meaning neither me or my companion have been here before, we are both knew here) which makes it even harder too. So we did not know any of the members, and we had to basically start from scratch trying to find people to teach. 

so... Elder Catròn walks freaking fast and doesnt stop working for anything! haha he just goes and goes and goes. Its awesome because I know that I am being trained well, but its awfully exhausting. Mostly because this sector has so many hills! I dont know if you can see a topography map on google earth or something but its crazy how much we walk and how much of it are on the super steep hills. Remember those super narrow steep streets in Cusco? yeah its just like that... but STEEPER!  My legs are going to be HUGE by the time I finish in this area. 

So after we email we are going to get my first cumpleto (huge hot dog with tomatoes and guacamole and stuff for those of you who dont know) I am way excited. I hear they are legendary :) haha

So at church yesterday there were only about 40 people in the whole ward. It seems more like a branch. But the bishop is really nice, and they had the 3 new missionaries to the aresa (not elder jensen) introduce and bare our testimonies in sacrament meeting. A couple ladies in the congregation were asking me where I learned spanish, and if one of my parents were latin or something because they said I talked so fluently.  I think they were just being nice... but I do feel like I am going to pick the language up quickly! Its obviously going to be hard the first few months, but I think I will be blessed to pick it up quickly because I need to in order to teach more effectively and fulfill my purpose. Find, Teach, and Baptize.

There are hundreds of stray dogs here in the streets, and everyone here is either Catholic, Evangelist, or maybe baptist. Its frustrating because most people say they respect all religions and believe in god and christ but are not going to change religions. We try our best to teach them that they need to be baptized by the right authority and everything, but its tough. We have talked to hundreds and hundreds of people in just like 5 days of working, and very few have listened and allowed us to teach them. We have taught maybe 9 or 10 lessons, and of all those people we have scheduled a follow up visit, and invited them to come to church. They all agreed, but NO ONE came to church yesterday and they are always gone when we show up for the second visit. Its kind of frusterating... But I am not letting it get me down. Thats what life is going to be like, tons of people that dont want to listen, or are not commited, we just have to find the ones that are. Heavenly Father has children here that are erneastly seeking to find the truth, and we just have to pray for the spirit to guide us to them! I love this work. Yes it is super difficult and physically demanding, but the greatest things in life dont come easy right?? :)

I am doing great, and Im sure there are things I have forgotten to tell you... but hopefully you can get a good idea of how the first week went! Ask whatever questions you have or anything and I will write you back next monday! I love all of you and thanks for your prayers and everything! I know I will be blessed to EVENTUALLY understand these people and be able to accomplish all that heavenly father has in store for me! 

Love you All! ... until next week :)

Elder Hartvigsen

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My arrival into Concepcion, Chile October 7, 2014

 So we got here a few hours ago to Concepcion, Chile. The President and his wife, and like 4 missionaries from the office, and about 6 elderly missionaries met us here too. It was so pretty flying in, and so green!!! We are having some training meetings and we are going to eat lunch, and then We will get our companions, and out assigned areas. I am kind of bummed because I am emailing right now... before I know who my companion or area is. So SORRY guys :( But you are just going to have to find out next P day I guess.  I just met with President Arrington and he assured me that my area and companion were assigned after much prayer and fasting. And that this is exactly how the Lord has is planned, and wants it to be :) He seems like such an amazing guy! I cant wait to get to know him more, and work here in Concepcion. His wife is also so sweet! I love them already :)

I am a little tired from the whole day of travel, and I don't have much time to give details... but I will next week. But in short, I had 2 AWESOME missionary experiences on the flight here :) The 8 and a half hour flight from Mexico to Santiago I sat next to this guy, and we talked about the gospel for probably 4 hours! and.... he spoke english too! He didn't want to speak spanish with me, because he wanted to practice his english. It was pretty good, and I wanted to try spanish, but I taught way more effectively in English :) I gave him a card with my email, and a Book of Mormon in spanish... I will give details next week, but it was a super cool experience. And my next flight to Concepcion I taught the restoration basically to a man named Freddie, and he read the whole restoration pamphlet I gave him, and seemed interested. WAY COOL! anyways... its gorgeous here in Chile. and beautiful weather!!

I wish you could know where my area is and who my comp will be... sorry though! I am doing great and will email you next week! Love you lots!!

Love, Elder Hartvigsen

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Character of Christ, last week in the Mexico City CCM Sept. 30, 2014

Hey everyone, Another week has passed... and its crazy that 1 week from now I will be in Concepcion Chile. Or wherever the heck I am assigned in the mission ;) Let me try to remember all the things that happened this week. Last Tuesday night we had a devotional that was streamed from Provo. Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke. It was a really cool, less formal talk than conference! When Apostles are with the missionaries, they all sort of lighten up, and kind of speak to us more informally than they can in General Conference. He said he was going to talk to us like a Grandpa talks to his grandkids. He didn't have any talk prepared or anything written out... he just talked to us and shared advice and such! wow! He talked about setting goals, and how important that is. He spent a lot of time talking about the Worth of Souls (Doctrine and Covenants 18). I love that section of the scriptures by the way. It so sweet to think about how every single soul is precious in the sight of god. He instructed us to let our families "Live our missions with us!". Through our emails. I hope I am doing a good job of that, sharing everything with you that happens... especially the spiritual parts, because thats what really matters!

Then Thursday morning we had a special devotional with elder Evans, and Elder Allen. I don't remember their full names... but one is a member of the first quorum of seventy, and the other is like the manager of the missionary department or something. They actually came and spoke to us, so that was pretty cool. Again more great insight like: "Be a FULL purpose missionary". Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through Faith in Christ, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. So he talked about how some missionaries get so caught up in BAPTISMS... and forget the rest of the purpose! There is so much more to it than just baptism. That is only the beginning. They also spoke on being "Bold, but not Overbearing!" (Alma 38:12) Great devotional!

But Sunday was the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of the week, and probably the single most spiritual day so far in my mission! It was incredible. We got to fast starting saturday at lunch, until sunday at lunch. I know that fasting was a huge factor at why I was able to feel the spirit so strong. So after church, we had a class with the MTC President on the Holy Ghost. We talked about all his roles, and what a key influence he plays in conversion! And when I say key... I mean, he plays the ONLY role in conversion!  He is the conversion :) But the best part was sunday evening when we got to hear from Elder David A. Bednar. I forget how incredibly powerful he is when he speaks. He is definitely one of my role models, and a master teacher of the gospel! He spoke on the Character of Christ. This talk was given in a MTC devotional in Provo like 2 or 3 years ago on Christmas day. I found out that ONLY MTC´s have access to these devotionals. They are not printed anywhere, and no one has access to them other than missionaries. I am sure he uses some of the same stories or material in other talks... but what a great and rare opportunity to hear one of the Lords Prophets. Its kind of sad, because I wish you guys could look it up and read it all. It was incredible! But I took like 3 pages of notes though and will tell you all I remember from it :)

so... He started off with a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "There would have been no atoning sacrifice, without the Character of Christ." This is a profoundly deep... and loaded statement! What is the Character of Christ? He described it simply as... how the Savior ALWAYS turns outward, when everyone else would have turned inward. The natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). He related the natural man to the cookie monster. "I want cookies... and I want them now!!  its so true. The natural tendency of human beings when things are difficult, or stressful, or lonely, or frankly even when things are going fine, is to turn inward and be selfish. Jesus Christ ALWAYS did the opposite. You think of just the last week of his mortal life... Right before he suffered in the garden his 3 chief apostles kept falling asleep and let him down a little. He wasn't disappointed per say, I don't think... but probably a little let down. Then after this, one of his own Apostles (Judas) betrays him. He had just moments earlier suffered for the sins, afflictions, sicknesses, and pains of every human soul. And after Judas betrays him, Peter lashes out and slices off one of the guards ears. The savior, being who he is... immediately reaches out, and has compassion on this man and heals his ear. I don't know about you... but I sure would be thinking about that guards safety and well being. The natural man would want others to have pity for him, and turn inward. But not the Savior.

Another example is him hanging on the cross, and saying "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." He was also doing missionary work at the same time... telling the man that hung next to him that had stuck up for the Savior, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) And the last thing he did before he died, was made sure that his Mother would be taken care of. These are only a couple examples, and the entire earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ shows this same pattern!

He talked about how missions... ARE NOT ABOUT US. Those that seek to find their life... will surely lose it. If we want to find out lives, we need to not be looking for them but rather losing our lives in the service of God and then will we find our life. Oh man there was so much more, I wish I could write down everything in my notes. He talked about Testimony and Conversion. Testimony is the knowledge of something that is true, that you cant see. He said "Testimony will never be enough!" There are plenty of people who have left the church that once had testimonies. But if we are not truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are at risk of falling away. So what is conversion then? Conversion is consistently living and being true to that which you now. "You cannot live on borrowed light." Conversion is getting rid of the "cookie monster" and repenting (or turning back to god).

I wrote in my journal that night... that it was impossible for me to remember all of the things he said, but I hope I NEVER forget the spirit I felt that night. It rang true! Every word he said! The spirit confirmed to me, the witness that Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior, and Redeemer. He is the example that we need to emulate. He is the life, and the light of the world, If we come unto him we can be saved! And only through him :)

He left us with a challenge, that if we truly wanted to deepen our understanding of the gospel and the character of Christ, we should buy a cheap new soft copy of the Book of Mormon. We should read the entire thing through with one aspect of the gospel that we want to learn more about in mind. (example: repentance, faith, priesthood, character of christ) I dont know... anything you choose. If we read the whole through and marked it all up according to this one doctrine. And wrote a half page summary of what we learned of that certain topic. By the time we were his age, we would have 4 or 5 hundred copies of the Book of Mormon marked according to different topics of the gospel. yeah... thats kind of an INTENSE challenge, but I think I am going to try it. 

He left us with an Apostolic blessing, that according to our desires and diligence, we would understand the character of Christ better, and this would help us receive all the Spiritual gifts that we need to be successful now, and in the future. WOW! What an experience. I leave my witness in addition to his, that I know it is true! This gospel is a gospel of happiness, a gospel of change, and a gospel of healing! Please all of General Conference this weekend. I am so excited to have the opportunity to watch it with like 600 other missionaries. I have been waiting for like 3 weeks for it. I know that if you go into conference with a sincere question in your mind and your heart. The Holy Ghost will answer your question. Test it out, and see if it works! Because I know it will. It always does ;)

If I don't get to email you next monday before I leave, I will call you at the Airport monday night. Love you Family, Have a great week! Take notes at conference too! I took for granted so much these opportunities, but when else do you get to hear the Living Prophet of God speak, and all 12 apostles???  Enjoy it!

Love Elder Hartvigsen.