Wow. It's been a wonderful week. And add on to it all the news from the home front. A lot has happened here and there and I don't know where to begin.
But I'll start in Los Angeles and also bid it a sweet fairwell. It's been a good five and a half months here. I can't believe it went by that fast. Easily the fastest four transfers of my mission, which leaves me hesitant to start my last four, since it will probably fly by even faster. However, I will be spending them in familiar territory, as I have been assigned to the zone of San Pedro, about twenty minutes from Coronel (where I was 6 months) towards Concepción. I passed through San Pedro all the time, have stayed in the house there, know several members from the ward and know the chapel. It's going to be very very strange for me being back so close to where it seems like I just was, but I'm very excited for yet another adventure (not to mention all the sea food, ocean vistas, fleas, and heavy rain).
My companion will be Elder Torres, from Santiago, Chile. He was one of the district leaders here in LA south a few transfers ago and I love the guy. We got along super well and he's a fantastic missionary, so I'm excited to be with him.
I'm shipping out tomorrow in the morning, so I'll let you all know how the first week went next monday.
1) Mom, thank you for letting me know about the school options. Still have not received the package, but when I get to Concepción tomorrow, I'm going to try and stop by the mission office and see if it's there. Thank you for understanding my desire to extend the mission. I asked president about it today in my letter, so I hope it all works out. And I would like to start school again as soon as posible upon returning, but if it's not possible, I would be happy to work on "Staying Astonished," although Mom I would not get too excited since I haven't really been as 100 percent in writing down astonishing things as I could be. I'll try to be more diligent in these last months, but please understand that writing a book isn't one of the things exactly on my radar at this moment. Missionary work is demanding!
2) Holy cow Greg you're engaged!!! That's fantastic! I'm so happy for you buddy! Seriously when I read that / saw the pictures I wanted to jump out of my seat and shout for joy but I'm in a library so it was really hard to restrain myself. That's great that you and Katie have had such a great relationship. I'm happy for you both and wish you the best. And when I get back, Greg, I must see you as soon as possible. It's been way too long since we've talked, but honestly I think about you all the time. I can't help but think about how you and I used to get together in my house years ago to listen to the missionaries, and how I'm one of those now. I think a lot about it actually, and it gives me a great sense of appreciation. As missionaries, we're always looking for people in every moment to teach this wonderful gospel that bring so much happiness and peace to people's lives. And to know that my friend Greg was one of those people who this message affected in at least some small way gives me great joy. I hope that when I get back, we'll be able to catch up a lot and also talk about what I've been teaching people for the last year and a half of my life. Love you buddy and see you soon.
3) Austin!!! Thanks for writing me man! It's great to hear from you. Glad to know everything's going well with the comedy business. We've got a lot to catch up on. I appologize too for not writing much either. I'll write you more next week, and see you soon! Love you buddy.
4)There were way too many amazing experiences this week to share in one day, but here's one that stands out, very briefly. Maite is a friend of a very strong member of the ward. They study the same career and often do projects together. We had a lesson with Maite in her friend Debora's house last monday. Maite is a wonderful person, and truly prepared to receive the Gospel. She's been catholic her whole life, but told us she's always felt that there's just something that's lacking but didn't know what. She hasn't been attending church for the last 6 months and that also makes her feel like she needs to recuperate her relationship with God. We taught her the message of the Restoration of the Gospel, and I know she felt the Holy Ghost testify to her of the truthfulness of it all. As we approached the end of the lesson, we knew it was time to extend the baptismal invitation as we had previously planned, but I admit that in this occasion for moment I felt fear. I thought, she's been catholic her whole life, she probably feels fine with the baptism she's got, or maybe she'll say "you know guys, thanks for the message, but I'm catholic and this just isn't for me." However, we testified of the importance of baptism in the way Jesus was baptised, following his example and extended the invitation. Her response was not what I expected. She said yes without hesitating and let out a large sigh and explained that she felt something like a chill mixed with great peace come over her. She then put her head on Debora's shoulder, who was sitting next to her, and began to cry, explaining that she felt that we were messengers of God sent to her in the precise moment. We testified to her that that was in fact true and promised her that she would be able to prepare herself to make a covenant with her Father in Heaven. We then invited her to prepare herself for baptism on the 20th of april, and, needless to say, she accepted. I am astonished.
5) I always feel like I'm forgetting something, because I often do, but I'll leave you here, as this letter is already quite long, and I'm over time. I love you all and am always grateful for all that you do. I know Christ lives, has established His church on the Earth in these last days, and that his grace is sufficient for us, so that we may be perfect in Him. I am grateful for His gospel, not only because it saves me, but because it changes me too. Austin, Greg, Corey, all my friends and everyone I know: my testimony of these things is my soul's treasure, and I invite you to learn more about it. If I could, I'd be there to tell you myself, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you more about it before. I love you and know that God loves you. Thanks for everything.