September 23, 2013

Alcohol not included

How are you??

Well, we finally had what I would call a normal week. Except for cambios, that is. We're still here! Yep, Hermana Nájera and I will be staying together in Estación for 6 more weeks- get ready for the perfect mission companionship. We've got lots of goals and lots more time to really perfect our relationship and ourselves. Hermana Nájera is going to work on her English, we want (Ok, mostly I want) to go running in the mornings, we´re going to improve our communication in making decisions, I'm going to be better in listening to the counsel of my companion, and Hermana Nájera is going to express more love for the people around us. It is going to be a good 6 weeks!

Osvaldo's family continues to be rather hostile and upset, but he continues praying and studying a lot. He payed his tithing for the first time this Sunday, and he was very happy about that. Arturo is doing alright, though one of his relatives really chewed him out for being baptized, and I think that discouraged him a bit. We're trying to help him keep the vision. Our ward mission leader, Nikolas, had some fallback on alcohol this week for the 18, but he's in his repentance process and he´s grown a lot spiritually because of it. I have a lot of hope for him and he´s doing well.

Patricio is our progressing investigator, but he's rather complicated and we're still brainstorming hard on what to do to help him. He won't accept a baptismal date and has only been halfway completing his commitments to read and pray, though he likes church and really like the sociality of the iglesia. He's quite a solitary man- his wife kicked him out of the house about 8 years ago and he's been living here alone, hopping from this job to that job, playing around with motorcycles, and forming some of his only human relationships though a little international radio. In just the last week, however, he's quit smoking (even though we haven't taught him the Word of Wisdom) and I can tell that it surprises him a lot that he was able to do it. We'll see where he goes.

And now, for a couple cultural and day-to-day details (dedicated to my father. It is his birthday today!!) This week was the 18th of September, Chilean Independence day. Or rather, Chilean Independence week. I must say that after seeing such patriotism and partying here, I'll be upping my game the next 4th of July. (Alcohol not included.) They had almost the whole week off from work, and every house had a flag up. Walking the streets, we'd see people participating in some of the traditional 18 activities. There are kites of all kinds here, and lots of the families take walks and fly kites. There are also little tops that you wrap a string around then throw it- it flies to the ground and from there you can use the string to pick it up, keep spinning it, etc.

Though I don't do braids as well as many of the Chileans, braids and fancy hairdos are also traditional for 18

Perhaps the most popular 18 activity- drinking. Yep, lots of that. It also doesn't help that Cauquenes has a really good vineyard (we got a lecture on wine this week- apparently Chile exports a special kind of wine that the workers bury and then play music for the wine until it ferments. I guess it is really popular?) But aside from that, the families are also just really involved preparing food. Last week I sent a picture with a couple fresh sheep skins- I think I've seen more sheep skins and pig heads this week than I will for the rest of my life. They either kill their own or they buy them special for the occasion, then kill it and spend the whole day preparing the meat together as a family.

Erica, Hermana Gabby, and Hermana Nájera

Empanadas are also very traditional. The stuff that goes in the middle is called pino, which has a lot of onions, meat or seafood, olives, and boiled egg. They come baked of fried, and we got to help make them on a couple different occasions. Antichucho is like Chilean Shishkabobs- they'll usually use beef, pork, and hot dogs. The most common desserts are Rosca, a pastry with marshmellowish topping, and Mote con Huesillos, which is basically canned apricots served with the fruit juice and cracked wheat. Super yummy.

All in all, we ate a TON of meat this week, and I think I'll be a vegetarian for the next month...

Love you all so much. I hope you're doing well!!


Hermana Oldroyd



September 17, 2013

What More Could I Ask?

Dear family and friends,

It was quite a week. Osvaldo was baptized, though there was quite the drama with his family. From the beginning, they've been very Catholic and have never wanted very much to do with us, no matter how many times we talked to them or offered to serve them or invited them in to learn more. Just a day before his baptism, his daughter invited us in and asked us `Would you like to see his ulcers?' , probably trying to convince us that baptism was too dangerous for him. The doctors had told him that he shouldn't get them wet, but we called Hermana Balden, the mission nurse, and she told us that he`d be just fine if we put on some waterproof bandages and dried it really well after. She showed us his ulcers- they`re an open wound, and have supposedly been getting worse these last weeks. She said she didn't oppose him being baptized, even though she personally didn't see the point of it, but she wanted him to wait another month. We talked with her and explained how it would be, etc. and that we also wanted to give him a blessing of health before. She basically said that we could do what we want, but they wanted as little contact as possible and so we'd have to do it somewhere else. We arranged with the Elders to give him a blessing the next morning in the chapel.

We began fasting, and the Elders asked our whole district to fast with us. The next day came, and I just prayed all morning. When the hour came, we met Osvaldo and the Elders in the chapel, and they gave him a great blessing and promised him that he could be healed through the faith that he was showing the Lord. He is the sweetest old grandpa, and he`s lived literally his whole life looking for the `salvation of his soul`, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the healing from his sicknesses. (He mentions those three things all the time, dear Osvaldo.) We asked him if he felt ready to be baptized that day, and he said he'd be good to go.

This is how Osvaldo marks his scriptures. Dear old man!!

We went back in the afternoon to pick him up, and to our relief, he said his daughter would come to the baptism to support him. She came with us to the chapel, and sincerely asked if anyone was paying us to baptize him. One of his other daughters also showed up, and on arriving, they asked if they could talk to the Elders. Oh no. Poor things, the Elders were talking to them for about 30 minutes before our branch president showed up and we sent him in there to rescue them. Meanwhile, we helped Osvaldo get dressed for his baptism. At one point President Raiqueo took them in to talk privately with Osvaldo, and he explained that no one wanted to rush or pressure their father, and that the only important thing was what Osvaldo wanted. He asked the daughters if they would respect Osvaldo's decision, and they said they would. He then asked Osvaldo if we wanted to wait for another couple weeks, or if he'd like to continue with the baptism that day.

For as much as his daughters say that this is just another baptism, that he doesn't really understand, and that he`s just doing it to please us, that man has a testimony. He's read almost the entire Book of Mormon, he is one of the first people in church on Sunday, and he`s asked us several times when he can start paying his tithing to `begin repaying his debt to the Lord.' He said he wanted to be baptized, because he didn't know what could happen in the future and he really wanted all the blessings that the Lord promised him. So there we were! The daughters wouldn't take pictures with him, but they seemed surprisingly interested in the baptismal ordinance- they even took pictures.

And so Osvaldo was baptized! The members that attended were very touched by his dedication and exemplary testimony. Though we're not allowed to go by his house anymore, we'll be working a lot with the members to keep teaching him and helping him develop his gift of the Holy Ghost.

Other noteworthy item- She did it. Hermana Nàjera and I had a special mission this week, in which she was going to fast and pray for help with resolving some of her internal struggles. We've been working through it for weeks, and this was what we`d finally decided that we could do. It was Wednesday night, when we had a little extra time in the house, so we spent a good amount of time talking, I prayed for her, and then we turned off the lights and said our personal night prayers. The next morning I was anxious to hear how it`d gone, but when she described it, she was still confused on how the Lord was going to answer her and who the Lord wanted her to be. I've got to say that I was a little disappointed. When we were first put together and she began telling me more about her life, I knew very strongly that we`d be together until she could resolve some of the issues that she has. Hearing of her continued confusion, I started brainstorming for what we`d do in the future to keep helping her.

This Sunday, however, we were in our kitchen making a dessert to take to a Noche de Hogar, chatting away as usual. She's started having the `Leaving a Sector`pains, and I expressed a little of my feelings that I wish I could've helped her more up to that point. She turned to me and told me that she is still confused about some things, but that her mindset and perspective have changed into the state where she knows she can put the rest of her life in order. She feels now that even if hard things have happened in her past, that she can still deserve the Lord`s blessings. Even if people have hurt her before, she can still fully love those around her- love them better, and love them smarter. She isn't afraid for the future like she was before, and doesn't think as much about the things or people that would hold her back. You'd better believe I was crying my eyes out- it was the miracle for which I had waited.

Also, earlier in the week, I got a birthday package from my dear friend, Kristine!! She'd packaged a bunch of conference talks in individual envelopes, each one saying something like "For days when you need Faith" or "For days when you need to read uplifting poetry." It was so thoughtful, and as I sat on the bus meditating about what a good friend she`s always been to me, and how extremely personal and thoughtful the present was, a scripture came to mind. Oh dear, I think it is in Matt 7. (Just looked it up on, it is Matt 7;11)

As I thought about that, and how special the gift was to me, I thought of my Father in Heaven and all the extremely wonderful gifts He has also given me. I was riding a bus through beautiful Chile, sitting next to a companion that I love and from which I've learned a lot. I get to be a missionary, which is pretty much my life dream. I talk to people about the gospel all day, and I get to see into the lives and homes of many different people. I was raised in a strong family where my father did not drink, cheat, or beat us. My mother is loving, educated and ever-present in our lives. My little sisters are some of my best friends, and we've never had to fight about anything. My grandparents are literate and loving, also members of my same faith. I have never had to emotionally or economically support my family. I've received a good education, I've had the opportunity to live on my own and work and develop my own skills and talents. I know how to read, I know how to cook, I have good friends and lots of emotional support in what I`m doing. I have all hope for my future and know that my path in the gospel will keep me going through whatever difficulty I might experience. What more could I ask??

More than anything, I have the Savior by my side. Driving through the fields, I reflected on how similar the little bushes look to the Olive Tree in the famous painting of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. It looked just like it, and it is very possible that it actually was an olive tree! The point is, there were thousands of them. Thousands and thousands, for miles and miles. As I thought of all that He`s born and suffered for me, I wondered to think of all the other millions of people that He saved with that same expiatory sacrifice. THAT is the greatest gift of all, and THAT was what made me cry like a baby on the bus. (Good thing everyone else was sleeping!) How blessed I am to have part in that, and to have these small moments to learn more of Him.
Those were the big moments of the week. Love being a missionary, and love being part of this glorious, eternal plan. Cuidese todos!


Hermana Oldroyd

p.s. One of my new favorite things is moonlight on a tin roof. So pretty!

p.p.s Chilean Cultural detail- Chilean women are really good with knives. I learned a new way to chop an onion, and I can now open a can with just a knife. Little things you learn on the mission, right?

p.p.p.s This week when I was playing the keyboard to start Relief Society, I accidentally hit the disco music button. Wake-up call, sisters

Doesn't Osvaldo look just like the grandpa in the movie UP?

Arturo and Erica
sheepskin being prepared

September 9, 2013

No, really, you've won me.

My dear family and friends,

Sending home pictures in white! It was rather a surprise for me as well. That was a little crazy, considering that Arturo accepted tithing on Tuesday, passed his interview on Thursday, and only on Friday agreed to go through with it. (He was also a bit sick and concerned about his health, but we assured him that we'd have everything nice and warm, etc.) To be honest, I had assumed that we would wait until the next week to baptize him, but our leaders had other thoughts and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. We were very, very blessed to be able to pull everything together. We had a lot of members come to support him, and he and his wife are very happy.

I know that it had a lot to do with your thoughts and prayers- thank you for your support. Even though it all came together really quickly, it felt so right and I wasn't overly stressed. I felt more eternally aware than in the other baptismal services we've had, and I spent a long time laying awake that night thinking about how it all fits together. This life is such a small moment, and every stage within it just a breath of the love and experience that God wants us to have. Each person we meet and know plays a role in eventual progression, if we'll only let them. It was one of those life-changing moments, like the flash of a picture that strikes deep in the heart and lingers in the mind. He is a very tender man and really showed the change that this is in his life.

We also saw some great progress in the branch. This week Presidente Flores, from Cauquenes Centro, was sustained as an additional counselor and stayed for the meeting with us. We had our first consejo (like ward council) after the meetings, and Presidente invited whoever would like to come to help us plan our 18 de Septiembre activity. We had a good turnout, and discussed more about leadership in the branch, the activity, etc. Perhaps the thing that makes me the most happy is that our Relief Society president, Hermana Laura, accepted her calling again!!

She turned in her keys about a month ago, supposedly very discouraged by the lack of support in the branch. Ever since I've been here, she has been busy caring for her sick mother, but she improved a bit and we were finally able to go visit her on Thursday. We heard her conversion story, and I tried to encourage her, expressing our desires to serve and support the branch. Secretly, I was hoping she'd say that she'd take up her calling again and help us, but she told us to keep on serving and to support the new president. Sunday- Hermana Nájera and I were able to give talks in Sacrament meeting, and she came up to talk with me after, saying how inspired she felt by my talk, and then in consejo she told us all that she'd like to keep serving. I was so thrilled!!

Other little good news is that we had an hermana offer to give us lunch that has never given lunch to the missionaries before! It is a small thing, but I'm very happy that she feels an afinity with us and can now receive the blessings of participating more in missionary work.

Enjoying some ice cream

Osvaldo is good to go for this Saturday. We're trying to win his family so that they'll also assist the service, and I really hope so!! We're probably going to ask the Elders to give him a blessing of health, considering that both of his legs have ulcers and that one of his hips is bad. It'll be an experience to get him under and out of that water, but he is so dear and so committed to go through with it.

To give a little summary of my talk, I used Elder Holland's talk "Lord, I Believe" from this General Conference. He gives us a guide to build our faith, and as missionaries, members of the church, and individuals who seek personal happiness, we need to have a fundamental belief in three people. 1. Ourselves 2. Other people 3. Jesus Christ.

 If we are to progress spiritually, we must believe in ourselves. We must believe that God forgives, that we can one day become what He wants us to be. It is this belief that will sustain us in our darker days. We also must believe in the inherent goodness and potential of the people who surround us. Like President Monson says, we must see them as they may become. Though they'll make mistakes, though they'll drive us crazy sometimes, they are spiritual sons and daughters of God, just like us, trying to grow and progress. We need them and cannot be perfected without loving and serving the people that God puts in our path.

And of course, we must have our foundation built on our saving rock, Jesus Christ. He is the one that makes it possible to believe in a better future, to believe that others can overcome the weaknesses that sometimes we are so quick to see. Through Him and His expiatory sacrifice, we are made whole. We are made clean, but only if we believe. We must believe that He is greater than our darkest sin and grander than our deepest sorrow. We must believe that what He asks us to do, He does out of love and concern for our eternal welfare. We must love Him.

Love you all so much,

Hermana Oldroyd


Sister Nájera, Aturo, his daughter, and Erica

Berta, Arturo and the ward mission leader Nikolas


The famous breakfast mug- inside is either raspberry yogurt and granola, maybe a chopped banana, or oatmeal with lots of sugar. Yum! 
Peanut butter available at the local store, at last!

September 2, 2013


My dear people-

Up and down week. I think I´ll give just a quick summary and then expand on a couple events if I can.

Friday morning we taught Arturo the law of tithing. Come to find out, in all her years as a member, Hermana Berta has never paid tithing, and does not have intentions of changing. Even after teaching the principle the best that we could and explaining all the blessings we receive for paying tithing, they weren't willing to live they law. He had an interview with Elder Dumm on Saturday night, and didn't pass his interview because of it.

That was sad in a still, quiet way that I've never felt sad before. It was different from the Alexis moment (Remember that? The returned missionary that said he didn't want his daughter to be involved in the gospel?), because that sadness was hot and sudden and deep. This was a little more broad, and more bearable. Perhaps I'm learning to take others' agency in stride. Can I just repeat that there is no monetary sacrifice, no emotional offence, no Sunday football game that is worth sacrificing the blessings of the Lord's gospel. Anyone here willing to trade 16 dollars for the blessings of an eternal marriage? Because I'm sure not. We've thought, fasted, and prayed for him, and we're patiently doing all that we can to help him have a spiritual experience with baptism and the law of tithing. Please pray for him-

Friday night we took a bus to Chillan in preparation for a mission conference. We sisters got to stay with the Pulsiphers in a very nice apartment, and they treated us very well. The only downside is that they reminded us that Saturday was the first BYU Football game.... Darn it!!

Saturday morning was the conference, with Walter F. González and his wife as the visiting authorities. They were so good! I was very inspired. Also played the piano, and it happened to be one of those conferences that started a little late. Gotta love playing prelude for an hour!

Hermana Carmen Rosa sends her love to all of you. She is one of the most fantastic people I have ever met, and is a huge blessing for us. She washes our clothes, makes us food, teaches Gospel Principles, and comes with us to visit two or more times a week. I honestly admire and love her so much!

Mom, you'd be proud of me. We cleaned the refrigerator like crazy today, and felt quite accomplished. There may or may not be President Inspections coming up, so we´re trying to be prepared.

THAT, my friends, is only one of the gigantic ice chunks that we chipped out of our freezer. I do not think that there is a cleaner refrigerator in all of Chile today.

We went running this week! Just imagine trotting past a Chilean vineyard as the sun comes up. We'll see if I can convince Hermana Nájera to let us do it more often!

Maybe there will be peanut butter in the Unimark today?? Last week they said they´d be getting a new shipment, and I sure hope so.

I love this work so much. In all things, I've been blessed to feel the presence of the Lord here in Estación. We may have some weaknesses, and we may have a lot of work to do, but we have heavenly help from all sides. I love each of you and encourage you to, in times of doubt or discouragement, go to the Book of Mormon. It is inspired of God and will serve as a tool of the Lord in our lives if we let it be so. It has a real power to change, uplift, and bless us. I love the Lord, love this work, and love each of you.

Take care-

Hermana Oldroyd

FHE with Henry and Ana Maria Castillo and their family

Have I mentioned that we´re almost coming up on spring here? Say hello to the cockroaches.