antofagasta is Mars. the dirt is red, there are tire tracks in it like the mars rover. and thats all there is. at least next to the airport which is way out of tow. so we met the mission president and everybody and got on a bus and headed off to take a picture which the mission president should have given you... and then back on the bus to a building where we met the guys who were gonna be our trainers, but we didnt know who was gonna be with who, we had about 15 elders who arrived. then orientation meetings, interviews, and empenadas. which are incredible. i love empenadas. after orientation we had a big group meeting about the specifics of our mission and our vision and such, then we unveiled our companions! you sit in the hot seat, and open a letter which has your city, zone, district, and then specific sector, all the trainers obviously know their own sector so after you read it your trainer comes up and gives you a hug and buffs your shoe! My trainer is Elder Villavicencia from Lima Peru, he only has 4 and a half months! but hes a great guy and a great missionary! then after that... a few more materiels and your off to the bus stop! super weird to leave Elder Mangum... but thats ok!
my first area is Arica! Río San Jose B! antofagasta is about in the middle of the mission and Arica is the most north! 12 hours on a bus! luckily... i slept the whole way haha. Arica is also like mars but more brown and less red. immediately after its off to the room. we share a room with two elders who also share our ward. we have 4 missionarys in our ward, but we have seperate sectors. one Gringo ( so i have help when i really need it) and one Chilean (its getting better now but i could almost never understand him). then we had zone meeting (after i showered cuz... i needed that). Then we went to work! with absolutely no base!
zero investigators. but thats ok! we headed off into the mess of houses and passageways that apparantly have names... but you must have to be really smart to find the names because there certainly arent signs! anyways! we started just trying to meet with members and share a brief message and ask for contacts. thats what we did for the first day until like 8 when we did contacts for and hour and a half. they tell you that knocking doors is really ineffective and that its way better to work with members, and i so much believe it. knocking doors is not a very affective way to proselite. But the ward was all at the temple this week! and we were starting at square 1! (which im learning is because my companion and the other elders in our room werent exactly obedient... apparantly they basically just chilled with member all the time. my companion never woke up at 7 until i got here. but hes good now, we are working hard. trying to fix things. but the missionarys in this ward dont have a fantastic rep right now other than the fact that theyre really fun to be around. we are trying to fix that. lots of work to do! someone has to start the change.) plus its really hard because almost everyone in northern chile works in the mines so their schedules are like 15 days working 5 days off. so we work a lot with recent converts and trying to keep them activated, thats one of the responsabilities of the ward... but theyre small so they cant really handle that right now. so we are doing it for them. if we can get more people active and going to church then one day they will be able to! basically everyone here is catholic or an inactive member of the church, so we have lots of work to do that isnt going to look super great in the numbers but as long as we are working hard and trying to keep our priorities right we will be fine.
ummm i dont have a lot of pictures right now and i dont have a ton of time, but i will try and take more pictures throughout this week. a couple highlight would be all the drunk people that love to talk to us. Estrella, we painted her room on saturday and were probably going to finish it sometime this week. this reallly old sweet lady that i can never ever understand but shes just awesome :) also we have made three different appointments in the same family with different people. we make one with one member but they arent there. so we teach another person and make an appoint ment but they arent there. so we teach another... its fun! also we are teaching this old lady dariella, who talks fairly slowly and clearly which is nice for me! she is catholic, knows a ton about the bible, and is also a VERY firm believer in reincarnation... yes, strange. so we are working with here. very slowly, we will see what happens. she doesnt want to get baptazied and doesnt always agree with us but shes fulfilling commitments and wants us back... we will see.
Yesterday in church was nuts! (this is my language shoutout by the way) Not only because there was barely anyone there but also because EVERYONE was trying to talk to me. Everybody tells me im way better than most at spanish, and i understand a lot, especially when its church related, but talking is slow. and when everyone talk to me at once... i can never understand! PLUS, Chile is crazy with speaking, they dont pronounce words, they mumble, and they go a zillion miles per hour. this is not spanish. its chilean. its so hard! only 3 more months of pain before i start getting better ;) its all good. still happy! the work is hard sometimes, but im happy. all is well here in Arica!
Love you all!!
Also! so many people recognize that we are messengers sent from God, yet... they dont wanna come to churhc. confused.