Just a quick note to let you know we made it here to a little town called Illapel in Chile, after about a 34 hour journey that left Carolyn as sick as she’s ever been with that cough (she had at the reunion) and a migraine and seasickness (a very winding mountain road). After our first week she was no better so we went down to the corner drugstore and bought some arithromyacin that the mission nurse recommended. It looks like it is pretty easy to buy stuff like that without a prescription. She is feeling much much better today, 3 days into her antibiotic.
Our assignment is to work with and strengthen the leaders and members of the Illapel District. There are 4 branches in this district, Illapel, Salamanca, Los Vilos and Canela… 1226 total members, of which only 157 attend sacrament meeting, or 13%. Carolyn is serving as the YW President in the District and I am a counselor to the District President, who reports to our Mission President.
It is a little different here. We’re in a small ranch house outside town with a tin roof and about 20 chickens, ducks, geese and dogs roaming around inside the fence around our house. Our dog (actually, she is the “house’s” dog, is named Diana, a german shepherd who is very friendly and does a great job keeping us safe by barking all night. In the morning, it is not the roosters that wake us up. The roosters are kind of lame, but the geese make a terrible racket when they get up in the morning.
We attended a Zone Meeting yesterday. An all-day training and motivation event conducted by the Zone Leaders (Elder Nunez from Paraguay and Elder Reyes from El Salvador) via my laptop and an overhead projector. It had probably a hundred slides and a dozen motivational church videos and was interspersed with role play excercises. I know they put some time into preparing it, but I think all the Zone Leaders had the same agenda/presentation, and because of the quality of it, I’m also wondering if it wasn’t prepared on a larger scale than just our mission. I’ve been pretty impressed how the church is using data and technology and modern efficiency improving techniques to standardize and make more effective the work of the missionaries.
We have 18 missionaries (12 Elders, 6 Sisters) in our Zone not counting us, split between the 4 branches. 12 of the 18 are NOT from the U.S.. From what we’ve seen so far, that ratio is probably good throughout the mission. Most missionaries in our mission are native Spanish speakers, and they are in every respect as good as any other missionary you’ve ever seen. They have all been trained in various CCM’s (The Spanish translation equivalent of an MTC) scattered around Central and South America.
We have a Toyota Corolla to use… one of only 5 assigned to couple missionaries in all of Chile, so we feel lucky. We have already put it to good use in assignments to 3 of the 4 cities in our District. The chapels are big and beautiful and well equipped, and pretty much cold and very empty. No heat, so everyone wears coats. The biggest three branches only have 40-50 attending. Our mission president, President Kahnlein and his counselor Pres. Vergara, whom we will be working with, are salt of the earth kind of people who you love immediately and who would do anything for you. So we have some good support.
Well, I’m at my self imposed 1 page limit. So much to tell. All is well here. We hope all is well with you back home. We’ll be praying for all of you. Love Dale and Carolyn