Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Eric met Elder Dane Christensen? Awesome! He had just barely started his mission in Denmark as I was leaving for the MTC... Wow...
The Bishop in our ward has stressed ever since we began the program called "Mobilizing the Ward Mission" that we start with a hymn in the beginning of every single missionary lesson. It was NOT my idea, you know me! I was terrified of singing before and it took a lot of guts to do any public singing. I will NEVER forget my EPIC FAILURE of singing in front of 500+ people, but I really wanted to challenge myself.
When I heard that we had to start singing, my stomach just went into a knot... this was going to be TOUGH. I realized that if I had to do this I couldn't do it alone. I knelt down and just admitted to God that I was terrified (as if He didn't know, I'd bet He was expecting my call for help). I pleaded with the Lord that this needed to be a little bit more successful than last time I sang for others to hear.
Easter is here and it's a time where people are reminded of our Saviour. We are just running into people left and right these days, wanting us to teach them. We meet people on the street, who are truly searching for truth in their lives. It's amazing and I love it!
Oh hint, hint! For a birthday gift... mormon.dk has a whole bunch of free download mp3 downloads with church music and stuff.... Please?
Love you all!
Elder Lee Jepsen
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I never got around to tell you that one of the members bought me a chromatic harmonica which I have been playing on in my spare time in the apartment. It's awesome and it's a nice portable instrument to learn while on my mission. I love it (I am not sure if my companion does, but he hasn't complained. I must hurry and get better before he stops me).
The same people who bought me the harmonica also provided an awesome opportunity a couple of weeks back. They introduced us to a woman in their building who actually has been a member since she was young, but never had much association with the church for various reasons. Now she is an active member and is like a sponge when it comes to learning about the gospel. She has an amazing faith and willpower. She is a single mother struggling with two very young children of which the oldest is autistic. It is obvious that her situation is stressful, yet she works very hard at fighting the trials and obstacles in her path, continually drawing closer to God and be cheerful. This woman has not only turned her own life around, she introduced us to a friend, another woman in the building, whom we also have been able to share the gospel with. I can never stop being amazed at how the gospel has so much to offer to so many! It's like pieces of God's great big puzzle all falling in place and working together as our Lord provides opportunities for his children to receive the gospel. I love it!
Gotta go now, but I love you all.
The latest is that there is another cyclone that follows the other ones. Cyclones are generally active during the month of March. The latest news received from the Area Authority is that all missionaries are restricted to stay where their central locations or meeting places are at, and no one is allowed to be proselyting right now, they are all safe, and all communications are cut off from Fiji….
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
We just had another baptism this week! It was great! It was of the couple that I told you about last time. It was great to see them make this covenant after such a long time of meeting with the missionaries. Forty-one people showed up for the baptism!
I love how I the Lord provides opportunities for me to learn and grow even though they usually never are easy. Oh well. That's why I am on a mission right?
My year-mark is coming up this week, halfway done already? This is going way too fast!
I am really grateful for the gospel. Recently we just found another family that had been looking for a way to bring their family closer to God, waiting for the gospel to come into their lives. It was obvious to us that as they have been seeking God, He has allowed gradually greater insights into His truths. It's awesome that God trusts us with families that He has worked with for so long. They are truly good people and they have a great desire to learn about the gospel. It makes you feel really small to be a part of something so great.
Love you all and I wish you the best. Miss you, but I like where I am and what I do. Looking forward to talking to you all for Mother's Day.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
What might we say with a week's perspective? First, the damage is much much more than originally reported or we realized. For the first twenty-four or thirty hours the Chilean news media didn't even report anything on a tsunami here, but covered happy tourists waiting to film something in Hawaii! The tsunami, reported here to be somewhere between ten all the way up to ninety feet in height (quite a variation; averaging the two might make a safe guess), did terrible damage, perhaps killing more and doing more damage than the earthquake itself. The reasons for this slow reporting are somewhat understandable - all electric power, microwave towers, and other base ground works for communications were down. Bridges were (are) out, roads were impassable, and most seacoast boats had been washed high up on the shore, or destroyed. No one really knew anything. Some few who had satellite-link phones could communicate. It was night of course (full moon though) and no one could take a picture of the tsunami. All coastal towns that I know here have a good warning system (sirens, evacuation routes) for tsunamis, but people in isolated areas did not have this advantage. The damage is truly terrible. Here in Santiago not so bad, but there are thousands here whose homes or apartment buildings were so damaged that they cannot return. Almost all modern buildings stood up very well.
Finally (I say "finally" only because this letter may already be too long and no one really wants to read 'too-long' letters from too-talkative Ted): some surprises. We are used to minor quakes here, quite often. But when this one started, at 3:34 AM, I knew that it was more than minor, because of the noise, yes, the actual noise of the earth moving. Not only could I feel the sliding up of some distant tectonic plate, but we could hear it! Grinding, rock on rock. Then the noise of building shaking, really shaking as if it were cardboard in the wind. Then dishes and pictures falling from the cupboards and walls. The sound was frightening (and also Cheryl complaining in fear - I hate to see or hear her suffer anything). Time. Perhaps just a little over two total minutes, but paralyzed as were were, rocking back and forth on the fourth floor of a building that seemed sure to fall, time was extended and seemed to go on for hours. When will it end? How soon will I die?!
Will it be long, painful hours in rubble, with twisted girders and legs and ankles twisted and broken too? Hurry, end this all now! And then finally, peace, peace. The building stopped shaking and sliding back and forth, and peace came. We all rushed from the building, and gathered near the fountain between our temple patron housing building and the temple. People came from neighboring apartments and joined us. And "round about the temple" we "were marveling and wondering one with another . . . ." And conversing about the amazing thing that had taken place and the destruction, yes (or, yea), even the fact that we were alive, safe, saved. And only a few minutes later did I realize that we had all sought the temple, to be near the temple (III Nephi 11:1,2), to gather and find peace. And we did.
"Safety for the Soul" Part 1 - Jeffrey R. Holland 2009
"Safety for the Soul" Part 2 - Jeffrey R. Holland 2009
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The highlight of the week was obviously Elder L. Tom Perry, what a man! There was such a great spirit at the meeting and he taught us so much that we now can use to improve our work. I am excited to get out and do more missionary work, using what I have learned. I am ready to go! I had the honor of shaking his hand as well, which was cool! Did you know that Elder Perry has an iPhone and that he's all techy? SWEET!
This week has been amazing. We had a lot of appointments fall through, but we still got to teach a lot as well. I am amazed with all the good people that the Lord is trusting us to introduce and teach the gospel to. With all our inexperience, lack of years, knowledge and other insufficiencies we have to represent the Lord to these people. We're it, and that's an awesome responsibility. I will give it my best, but when I am in the Lord's errand He has promised that I am entitled to His help and that makes all the difference. With God's help things are working here and I love it!
My companion is a good and sincere Elder with good intentions and I am sure we will accomplish some good work together. I am grateful and happy to be on a mission, it's a great blessing and an experience to remember forever.
I feel blessed beyond all expectations as the Lord keeps surrounding me with missionaries and leaders that I can learn from and look up to. I have so much to learn and so much growing to do.
Monday, March 1, 2010
When we were set apart for this calling, Elder Scott of the counsel of the twelve apostles taught us many important lessons. He spoke from personal experience when he was a Mission President in Argentina. One message that he shared with us is this: "At times, during your mission, you will be awakened in the middle of the night or the early morning hours with thoughts of specific things you should do for certain missionaries. Do not ignore these thoughts. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost who will communicate with you in the stillness of the night or the peace of the early morning hours. He will speak to you then because that is when you are still enough to hear." Elder Scott further instructed us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we could record these precious promptings. He said that by the next morning, we would be likely to forget the promptings if we didn't write them down.
We have been astonished at the fulfillment of Elder Scott's prophetic words. We have received many promptings in the exact manner that Elder Scott described. We are so thankful that Elder Scott taught us how to recognize and act upon these precious promptings. Had he not taught us, we may not have given these promptings the attention they require.
Nearly two and one half weeks ago, I was awakened at around 4:00 AM by just such a prompting. I did not hear a voice, but the thought was as clear as if it had been in the form of spoken words: "There is going to be an earthquake. Prepare your missionaries." I sat up in bed and immediately remembered Elder Scott's counsel. That morning I told Larry what had happened. He immediately set to work organizing our missionaries to prepare for an earthquake.
In talking with our office missionaries to arrange for them to put together a list of everything we would need to prepare... in both Spanish and English... we discovered that the Lord had also let two of our office missionaries know of the possibility of an earthquake (in the form of dreams) and the need to prepare our mission. We set a goal and arranged our schedule so that we could visit every apartment in the mission to check for safety and to review with our missionaries what to do in case of an earth quake. What a wonderful experience we have had as we have met with them and shared scriptures with them about being spiritually and physically prepared. "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). We instructed every missionary to have a "go-bag" (36 hour kit). We reviewed our emergency action plan with them of where to go and what to do if they had phone service and in case they did not. We gave everyone a paper with all instructions in English and Spanish, and we reminded them that "this life is the time to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32-34). We shared with them our thoughts and feelings about the need for spiritual and physical safety. Some of them became frightened and asked us if we knew something they didn't know. We smiled and repeated "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." We didn't want to unduly alarm them, but we did want to impress upon them the need to be prepared. We tearfully reminded them of our recent transfer conference where we had shared our feelings about our dear Elder McKay Burrows who was unexpectedly called home in January while serving his mission in Romania...how he was prepared in every way to meet God. We reissued our challenge to "be prepared" in every way. Then we knelt with them in their apartment and dedicated each apartment, asking for a blessing of safety and security to be upon every apartment.
When the earthquake came, we were prepared. We did not experience the panic that many felt. We knew we were prepared. Because of the words of the Lord's chosen Apostle, Elder Scott, we had listened and heeded the quiet, but clear promptings of the Holy Ghost. We were blessed with peace in the midst of chaos. We learned an important lesson: our preparation helped us to avoid panic and fear, but the Lord, in His wisdom, allowed us to experience enough discomfort to know that He has all power. He is in charge. We are nothing without Him. We are dependent upon Him for every breath we take. Only He can save us from death and destruction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is our perfect example. If we follow Him, we will be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel.
As the earthquake became more violent, the mission home groaned and wailed. The power died, so the whole city was black. The windows made a hideous screeching sound, and flying objects banged against swaying walls. The printer/fax machine, books, book ends, and fifty-pound television burst from the entertainment center and crashed to the floor, cabinets emptied, drawers flew open, the refrigerator moved, water sloshed out of the toilets, the floor jolted up and down as we ran across it trying to hold onto the walls to keep from falling down, and the piano toppled over like a small toy. As we made our way to the back yard, I remember thinking, "God is all-powerful. He is our only refuge from this horrible mess." I prayed and prayed for Him to still the earth. When we reached the back yard, we watched in terror. By the light of the moon we could see the swimming pool water form giant waves and crash out onto the rocks. House and car alarms screamed into the night... some from being crushed by falling debris and others I guess from the bizarre movement of the earth. I am not sure if the intense rumbling sounds came from the earth itself or from everything else that was shaking so violently. Finally, it stopped. When the calm came, we had to sit down because our legs were weak and unstable. My legs stayed wobbly all day and night yesterday. Today the muscles in my legs hurt like I ran a marathon. The aftershocks have been extremely unsettling. Each one begins like the one last night started. We just close our eyes and wait to see if it escalates or dies down. I have never experienced anything like this!
We were awakened this morning by a very strong after shock. Larry jumped out of bed and yelled, "Welcome to another glorious day in Chile!" We just had to laugh. We moved a mattress into the floor in our bedroom and made Landon sleep in our room. He was in his room with the door locked the night before and we couldn't wake him up. He never locks his door, but he was playing a joke on Larry because every morning Larry wakes him at 5:30 AM for seminary by tickling him unmercifully. So Landon had decided to stop him. When we couldn't open his door, in the middle of the quake, we thought he was trapped, so we screamed and banged. Landon thought that everything was falling off the walls because we were banging so hard on the door. I think we scared him more than the earthquake did!
Today, we attended a strong ward where Larry was invited to speak. The entire chapel and beyond was filled. People were so humble and so teachable. Larry taught the importance of doing the small things. He taught about Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to love one another and to share what we have with others. It was a great blessing for us to be with these beautiful Chilean people. Some have lost their homes...or at least parts of their homes. But they are strong and they want to serve the Lord. He taught of the scripture in Luke 21:11,13 which says, "and great earthquakes shall be in divers places...and it shall turn to you for a testimony." He also welcomed the sweet young woman who was in the congregation with the missionaries...her first time attending church...and then he invited her to be baptized from the pulpit. He asked her to please invite us to her baptism, and she said, "I will." The Lord always knows what His people need. Landon was reading in Alma 15:17 today. He said, Mom listen to this. This is what is happening here in Chile just like in happened in Ammonihah. The people were humbled and "checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God, watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction."
Our hearts are filled to the brim with gratitude for all of the blessings we have received in the Chile Santiago East Mission. We see miracles every day. In the midst of great pain and suffering, we can always find our Savior. He stands with His arms open, pleading for all of us to humble ourselves and come unto Him. He loves us. He invites us to accept His gift...the atonement. He invites us to repent. He wants us to love one another and to serve one another. He wants us to bring our families and those we love to Him. We can do it. We can do all that He asks, no matter how difficult it may seem. "With God all things are possible"
OK, sorry this is so long. I will end now. We are having a devotional tomorrow for all of our missionaries to talk about the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter. We want to remind our missionaries to teach and preach with increased vigor and animo of Christ. Last Monday in our office meeting, Larry suddenly stopped in the middle, and said, "During the prayer, I had a very strong impression that March 2010 is going to be our best baptizing month we have ever had in this mission." Now we know why he received that feeling. We are going to prepare to bring many souls to the waters of baptism in March. Please continue to pray for us and for the people of Chile. Please pray for the missionaries to have strength and courage to do all that is being required of them, even in difficult times.
We are so thankful that the tsunami did not turn out badly in Hawaii. Who would ever think that an earthquake in Chile could threaten the shores of Hawaii? Thankfully, the Lord is in charge. He is the one to whom we must turn for refuge from every storm. He has the power to save us.
Con mucho amor,
President Larry and Sister Lisa Laycock, Chile, Santiago East Mission