Monday, April 28, 2014

2 Nephi 33:1 - Power of Holy Ghost in Conversion

Hey Family!

   The life is starting to get back to normal here, well as normal as it can get with half of the hills burnt away.  Studies started up again, therefore there aren´t quite as many people serving in the hills like before.  Most of the burnt debris has been brought to the bottom and now we are in the process of constructing little houses called ¨Media Aguas¨, which are one room homes with enough space to put two three men tents.  There is no bathroom, but it´s mainly there so that the people have an acual roof over their heads.  The reconstruction of the houses will take months and months, but the people needed shelter for the rain that comes with the winter.  Most of those who lost their houses have gone relative´s houses but there are still many who won´t give up their land, therefore they have been camping out ever since the fire. Truly dedicated to recovering their life.

   I want to share a little story about one family who lost their house.  The mom, Brenda, is a member of the Church but had been inactive for MANY years.  She now has two daughters, one of 12 years and the other of 5.  On the night of the fire, she and her two daughters ran to the only place of shelter, the chapel.  She said that it was pure chaos outside, but once she entered the building´s doors peace was found.  Nothing could be heard from outside and she and her daughters slept peacefully.  The next morning they stayed for the sacrament meeting and were comforted by all the members.  Her brother and his family, who are strongly active, took them into their home and cared for them the entire week.  During the week, we began passing by and teaching Macarena, the 12 year old daughter.  Now she has a baptismal date for the 4th of April and her uncle will baptism her.  We also began teaching Brenda more and helping her put her life back together.  She is expecting another baby and plans to be married with her boyfriend by the end of the year.  Even though she literally lost all her physical possessions in the fire, she says that right now is the happiest time of her life.  She can not remember any other time when she was more happier.  The Lord´s purposes are unimaginable. We can always rely on Him.  There is no trial too tough that will lead us off His path.  Everything depends on our own decisions and how were exercise our agency.

   Yesterday at 9 p.m, all of the residents of Valparaiso ran out of their houses clapping their hands in thankfulness for those who sacrificed time and talents in repairing Valparaiso.  A moment that I will never forget.  Shouts of thanks were heard from every single hill.

Love you all!
Elder Weidman

Photo: My dirty face after a day of service.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mosiah 2:17 - Service

Hey Family!

   This week has been full of service and recovery for what happened last Saturday to Monday. Many days were spent in the hills performing service for members and citizens effected by the fire. There is A LOT to do up where the fire destroyed 3 thousand houses and I feel that the process of reconstructing what was lost will take months if not years. Most of the families of the ward who are now without houses are still cleaning their property so that they can begin the reconstruction.  People from all parts of Chile found transportation in order to help in the grand service project.  School was cancelled the entire week because most of the houseless people are staying in the school buildings. Valparaiso is moving forward, slowly but surely.

   Yesterday for Easter, our Bishop explained the similarity between Christ´s last week before his death, and the past week that we had here in Valparaiso.  In His last week, Jesus suffered from persecution, betrayal, loneliness, denial, and everything that we have suffered, suffer right now, and will suffer.  The brief period between His utter pain in the Garden and His sacrifice on the cross was the hardest moment when He felt the true price of sin.  The Atonement was then completed through his Resurrection on Sunday morning, when suffering ended and light was illuminated through the darkness.  The week here in Chile started with total darkness due to the smoke and ashes.  Pain was felt by all across Chile as news spread.  Sweat was shed as those who sacrificed days of study and work came together to repair what was lost.  All work ceased on Sunday in order to celebrate the Resurrection of our great Savior. There is always a glimpse of hope among the clouds of darkness.  

   I´m going to try to send some photos really quickly!

Elder Weidman

1. The smoke.

2. More smoke in front of a church.

3. The burning houses at around 10:30 PM. 

Well the computer is extremely slow so I´ll send one more of how I looked after working in the hills all day.  Just kidding. The time has ended. That´ll have to wait for the next week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Matthew 6:19-21 - Treasures in Heaven where dust can´t corrupt

Hey Family!

   I don´t know if you all remember but last week the scripture was 3 Nephi 13:25 - Take no thought of temporal things.  Now this week´s message (as you can see above) has to do with treasures in Heaven.  Both of these scriptures repeatedly came to my mind this weekend as I witnessed the destruction that a natural disaster caused here in Valparaiso.  I´m going to send 2 emails, one with my personal experience and the other with the story of the fire.

   On Saturday afternoon, at around 4:30, my companion and I were in the church waiting for an investigator to arrive.  Through the windows we began to see smoke rising behind the hills of our ward.  We immediately ran to the back of the church to see better and took some photos (photo 1) of the small stream of smoke. Our investigator called us to let us know that he was inside the Church, therefore we returned to teach him. Once finished teaching him, another investigator came and we taught another lesson.  We remained in the Chapel until around 6:30, waiting for a Matias (the Argentino member that I mentioned a couple weeks ago) to arrive and come with us. Upon leaving the church, we looked towards the hills and saw that the smoke was tremendously bigger.  We then called the other 2 missionaries in our ward to tell them to come down the hill and stay with us in the downtown.  President Kahnlein called us around 7 because he could see the fire from Viña.  He instructed us to stay off the hills and only walk around in the center.  We went to the street entrance of cerro el Litre and were informed by people running down the hills that houses were burning.  We tried helping as many people as possible without climbing up the hills.  At around 830, our Bishop called us and informed us that he needed the Church to be opened so that the members who had lost their houses in the fire could take shelter.  We ran to the Church, and began preparing the building for those who were coming.  The rest of the night was spent helping the faithful members who had lost everything in the fire.  As we left the Church at around 10:30 (we had permission to be out later) we looked towards the hill and could literally see dozens of houses burning to the ground.  In that moment, we knelt down in the center of the plaza and offered a quick prayer for those who were suffering.  

   The next morning at 9 A.M , we arrived at church in service clothes.  We cleaned up around the building until 10 when the Sacrament Meeting began.  Due to Fast Sunday, it was a testimony meeting and I will never forget the humble yet powerful words that were expressed.  I wrote down a few quotes from members who, just the night before, had left everything they owned in a house that now doesn´t exist. Here are some of their words: ¨I have what I need, my family.¨ ¨Brothers of the ward dropped everything to go to the rescue of their fellow members¨ ¨We are going to continue forward just like the pioneers¨ ¨I am a Seminary Teacher and I need to be with my class. God will ask me for my calling, not for the things I lost in the fire¨ ¨I cannot say that I don´t have a house because all of my loved ones have offered me their own.¨ ¨I am happy!¨ One sister said that she was more thankful than she had every been in her life because her long lost son finally returned to her in moment of danger.  The family was finally complete and all together in the church.  Those precious testimonies show that these families have placed treasures in Heaven.

   The other 2 meetings were cancelled and members with desires to serve from all over the Stake began arriving to our Church.  We were divided into groups, each group going to a distinct hill, in order to make a stop by each house of every member on the hills. I was assigned to lead my group of 20 elders (members and missionaries) from the stake to cerro las Cañas.  The truth is that once we arrived to the burnt houses, nothing was recognizable. We began clearing out the debris, looking for any valuable items that had been saved from the fire with little success. President Kahnlein even came from Viña to help in the cleaning.  We were up in the hills for 3-4 hours until we were instructed to return to the Church due to the growth of the fire in cerro Merced. (Read the next email and it will make more sense) In the end, 26 families of the church lost their homes in the fire. 

   The sisters of the Stake began collecting house supplies (clothes, food, etc) and the ending result was amazing!  The Church turned into a Bishop´s Storehouse! Members who had nothing had tears in their eyes when they saw the donated items.  

   I´m very greatful for the restored truths that we have.

Elder Weidman

My camera just ran out of batteries.  More photos next week.

I´m happy and safe is the main message!

Elder Weidman's Second Email: Fire in Valparaiso

At 4:30 Saturday afternoon, a fire (it is not known how it started) began burning a forest behind the houses that are on the hill La Cruz.  (I´m going to call each hill by it´s name so that it´s easier to describe) Around thirty minutes later the wind carried sparks from the fire to the neighboring hill, Las Cañas.  Trees on Las Cañas began burning as well.  At around 6:30, houses began burning on both hills.  The wind carried to fire to two more hills, El Litre and Merced.  The flames continued burning houses on La Cruz, Las Cañas, and El Litre until Sunday in the early morning.  Houses continued burning in Merced until Monday in the early morning. Around 1,200 houses were burnt (as of last night). Now the fire is completely put out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3 Nephi 13:25 - Take no thought of temporal things

Hey Family!  

 It´s been a great week, full of revelation from the heavens. I´ll explain more in the coming emails but right now I´m going to send some photos. Here´s the first

1. Doing what Mary does best.  Talking on the phone :)

2. He started growling when I took the picture.  Seems like that´s all for him.

3. The awesome sky after a night of rain.

One quick experience.
   We have an investigator who we contacted around 2 weeks ago.  We have been trying and trying to meet with her but it seems that her whole life is fighting against us.  She told us that she could meet with us on Sunday (yesterday) and we set a plan to meet at 5.  I had totally forgotten that that was when the last session of conference started so when she arrived, we hurriedly rushed her into the sacrament room with 0 explanation of what she was going to watch!  We left her with a member, and then ran to the English room to watch it in a native tongue. 
   After the session, we met with her in a small room in the Church acompanied by a member.  She exclaimed to us that almost every message had impacted her and that this is what she was looking for.  We explained to her a little about the Restoration of Christ´s Church and tears filled her eyes as she listened.  She had been an active member in another Church before but due to bad experiences she stopped believing in God.  Over the past month, she has had 3 encounters with the missionaries on the street therefore she wanted to know why this was happening.  We explained to her about the Holy Ghost and God was reaching out to her again.  She accepted a baptismal date for the 20th of April!  She admitted that she had not prayed for MANY years therefore we invited her to pray in order to start her repentance process.  At first she looked very afraid, but then she took a breath and beautiful words began flowing out of her mouth.  She ended the prayer in more tears with a new light in her eyes.  What a blessing we have to be able to listen to a prophet of God.  This is His Church.

Love you all!
Elder Weidman