Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hola! 7/28/15

Mom note:  Just as an explanation:
CCM is the Spanish abbreviation for the Missionary Training Center
Pday is Preparation Day (missionaries get 1 day off during the week to do laundry, shop, email, etc!)
Santiago Sur - Spanish for Santiago South (the mission he is assigned to)

His District (group he studies with) at the CCM

His companion, Elder Jenks in front of the Santiago, Chile Temple

He and  Elder Allred, visiting downtown Santiago
Hola Mi Familia!!!

So to start off, I lost all grammar and everything, and the keyboards here are weird so I will try my best, but I hope somebody is editing them and putting them on my blog! Anybody doing that?  

Where do I start off!? Que es Vida!? Umm last Pday was Wednesday, and now it is Tuesday (today) so I think it will be Tuesday next week. We just had 48 missionaries leave today to head off to their missions, it was crazy! So we get new elders y hermanas (Spanish for Sister missionaries) here coming to the CCM this week! It will be super nice to not be the new ones, so we are excited. We hope we get North Americans, more gringos (that what the natives call the white people) who we can just love and help! Because the first week, man is it a long one. Super long. So we are excited! But last Pday was fun! We went to this store called Leaders which is like a Walmart pretty much. Got some candy, then went to Paris, no not the Eiffel tower, but is downtown Santiago and just a lot of malls and shopping centers and what not. This Pday we went before we wrote our family, so we had 2 hours and I got a haircut, super short. I miss my flow man! Those were the days! They will come back for sure, thinking about dreads after the mission and just becoming a total hippie! But for now, I will settle with being ugly and having no flow. Me and my companion went with the hermanas to Paris, just took a taxi there, and got some stuff that we needed, walked around, AND...wait for it, had McDonalds!!! So good. An American burger hit the spot! All we eat here is rice, meat, and bread for DAYZ. 

Last Wednesday after Pday which we get 2 hours to explore the city and do whatever, we ran into my mission president in Santiago Sur! President Cook and he was super cool. Super chill and we only got to talk with him for a little, but I am really excited to get to know him more and to just be in the field. The days here are long, but this past week went by a lot faster. 6 weeks in the CCM sounds rough, but hopefully it just flies by! 

My mission, Santiago Sur is super ghetto apparently. Which I am really excited for! My mission is the smallest mission in the world next to temple square too we heard! All city, no country. We also heard that the area our mission is in has the highest crime and murder rate! So that’s kind of crazy!!! But I am really excited to go and just love the people with all my heart. I am excited to just serve people and teach people of my homeboy Jesus Christ. 

I got sick this past week and so that was fun! Me and a couple of elders in my district did. Hermana Doll who is the president’s wife here at the CCM is just amazing! So sweet and nice and she loaded us up with drugs and she is just amazing! She remind me of you mom and I can TOTALLY see you and dad being mission presidents! I hope it happens, you guys would be amazing!

The days here are packed. We wake up at 6.45 am, go to personal study for an hour, eat breakfast, go exercise. Oh in which the white elders, the gringos, we TOTALLY dominate a lot of the natives! My soccer skills are slowly coming back, but its super fun! They have small courts everywhere in parks with nets, super fun! Then after we get ready for the day, go to class, and we have classes literally the whole day with 10 min breaks each hour until 10 pm when we head back, write in our journals, and lights out at 11. So missionary work is hard, and super tiring. And we speak in spanglish constantly, a mix of spanish and english, and yeah! Pray for me to learn the language por favor! 

We had a talk on learning the language and the gift of tongues, and I have already seen it with myself. In two weeks I can pray in Spanish, say a lot of things, but man am I a gringo. Natives try to talk with us and we just laugh because they speak so fast and have NO clue what they are saying! But we try. Every day is a humbling experience. And all the tenses in spanish, don’t even get me started! SO LOST sometimes. But I keep on trying to stay positive! I am not learning the language for myself, I am learning it to bring others the truth and to bring others happiness. Happiness that is not temporal, but eternal! The mission is such a sacrifice sometimes, and it can be so hard. I can get so down on myself and so frustrated with the language. But this sacrifice is nothing compared to what Christ went through for us. And to be a direct messenger of Jesus Christ, is just amazing! I love the spirit that is here and how close I can feel it, and so many times a day. 

On one of our breaks we went outside and went to the temple, because we literally wake up to it, it is right across from us. So we sang songs at night and it is just so cool. We are so blessed to have a temple so close to us. We had many talks and discussions about the temple, and I just love it! The temple is literally the house of God. It is so peaceful, so beautiful! And to be halfway across the world where you can’t speak the language or don’t know anything, the temple is right there and it is literally home. It is home, even when you are so far away from your actual one! I love the temple. Boom. 

Our room that we have that my district is in, we call it the dungeon. It is rough. No windows, always cold, no life, no happiness exists in there. But we might be switching now that so many people left. Let’s hope because not seeing sunlight all day is rough! Our breaks we just go outside and soak up the beautiful sunshine, or cold, or pollution, kind of a mix of both!

Spanish is going ok. I just want to get out in the field! But all is well! Our district every night has this thing called circulo positivo, so postive circle at the end of the night because it is hard! Every day brings a new challenge. So we all share something positive with each other about the day or whatever, and our district is getting a lot closer with each other! They are amazing people. We are all different, and a lot of different things, but we are working hard together and for the same reasons, to bring others to come unto Christ!

I was overwhelmed with how many emails I got the first week. I felt so loved by everyone, I teared up hardcore! I miss all of you guys! Family and friends, and of course, the Colorado mountains! The Andes Mountains are pretty, but nothing compares to Colorado! 

Spiritual thought. I want everyone to go read the last chapter of Moroni in the Book of Mormon. It is powerful. This is a dying mans’ testimony, and he is asking everyone to find out for yourself. Find out for yourself if this gospel is true. Find out. Do not do it for anybody else, do it for yourself. I love that! Find out for yourself. If you are struggling, hang in there. God loves all of his children, SO much. He knows everyone by name and he wants every one of his children to be happy. I pray for you all daily, so much! I am so blessed to have an amazing family and friends. I love you all!!! Cho!!

Elder Carney

Farewell talk from Church 7/12/15

Lots of people have asked for Brad's farewell talk he gave at church on July 12, 2015.  He said we could put it on his blog!  Here it is!

Farewell Talk
6 years ago, my life was completely different from where I am at today. I remember coming home from Church, and just being so frustrated. I remember being at school and just being miserable. I hadn’t gained a testimony yet, a knowledge of anything about the church. I was trying so hard to live my life the best I could, yet it felt like everything was dragging me down. I remember being so bitter at God. I was so angry at him. I was so alone, even being surrounded by people who loved and cared about me. I went through trials. I screwed up many times. I felt distant from God. I felt no hope in my future and no hope in myself.
And now, in this moment, I would have never guessed that I would be talking to you as I prepare to leave on a mission, halfway across the world in Chile, dropping my schooling and life and devoting my life to God for 2 years. Now, if I would have told you my past, you would have never expected me to be where I am today. And that is what I want to share insights with you about, learning from the past and building a better future, because as Elder Holland once pointed out, “the past is to be learned from, not lived in.”
It is through the atonement of Jesus Christ that we can learn from our past, and move towards the future. C. Scott Grow helped put the atonement into perspective when he said, “There is no sin or transgression, pain or sorrow which is outside of the healing power of His atonement.”
The Atonement is the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to help us overcome sin, adversity, and death. Jesus Christ is just THE MAN!!! This is a man who could move mountains, who could heal people just from a simple touch, who walked on water, who would teach the sick and the afflicted. This is a man who, in the garden of Gethsemane, bled from every pore of his body for us. A man who, in Mark 14: 36 said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Abba, is translated into Father, into Daddy. So, this is the son of God, asking our Heavenly Father, his Father, “Father, why me?” “Daddy, why this?” “Dad, Where are you?” This is Jesus Christ, the man who could move mountains, heal people, walk on water, who is mighty beyond belief and is briefly asking “why?”
But the interesting thing is, don’t we all ask why? When we are going through a trial, or remembering our mistakes and all of our screw-ups, our past. Don’t we just ask, “why me? Why this? Why did I have this happen to me? What was the purpose?”  
Jesus Christ, the only perfect man to walk on the earth, had the choice to give up and to not go through with Gods plan, a plan that was set from the very beginning. He had the choice to not bleed from every pore, to not suffer the pains and afflictions of all mankind. He had the choice to not follow God, to save himself from pain we cannot even imagine. Yet through it all, even after questioning briefly “why?” he died for us. He chose to follow the plan.
He chose that. And we have a choice too. We have agency. We have choices to make every day. Little and big choices that can build us up or tear us down. We can choose to look at our past and to stumble upon it and always revert back to it, or we can build upon our past, and learn and grow from it.
The atonement can be such a big thing and can be kind of a hard concept to grasp, but I like this story by Josh Harris which puts the atonement in more of a mortal perspective.
Harris tells a story about a room, just a simple white room empty except for one wall made up of filing cabinets filled with small index cards, each cabinet with different headings. Here were written the actions of every moment of his life, big and small, in fine detail. He saw cabinets labeled, "Friends I Have Betrayed," "Comfort I Have Given," "Lies I Have Told," “People I have made smile,” “Thoughts I have had,” and the list goes on. There were millions of cards – each signed with his own signature. He tried to destroy and get rid of every card, wanting no one to see these cards of his life, the good and the bad. Tears and anger and every emotion was flowing through this man, and that’s when he looked up, and saw Jesus Christ. “No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus” he claimed to himself.  Jesus went through each card, and the man witnessed sorrow deeper than his own. Jesus looked at the man with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger the man. The man dropped his head, covered his face with his hands and began to cry. Jesus walked over and put His arm around the man. Jesus could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with the man. Then Jesus got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over the man’s signature on each card.
"No!" the man shouted rushing to Christ. The man pulled a card from the Savior’s hand. And there it was, written in red – so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered the man’s signature. It was written with His blood. Christ gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. After some time, He placed His hand on the man’s shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I love this story so much! Jesus had the choice, and he made his choice with the atonement, signing his name over all of ours. We can have an understanding of what the atonement is, but it will not change our hearts completely until we choose to apply it to our life. We have the opportunity to have our sins be forgiven and forgotten. In Isaiah 1:18 Christ promises us, …though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
How beautiful of a blessing that is! We have repentance. We can ask for forgiveness, and through the atonement and through our own agency, we can be forgiven. Then, in Doctrine & Covenants another promise is made, declaring, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
            How amazing is that!? Our past, our mistakes, every little screw up, event, action, anything, can be forgiven, and they will become as white as snow, and the Lord will remember them no more! I love that! Yet one of the hard things for us, is to forgive others who have hurt us. Others who, accidentally, or maybe even purposefully, affected us in some way, which can be so hard. But not only do we need to forgive others, we also need to forgive ourselves.
Elder Holland once said this, When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died to heal.”
When I was in High School, I really struggled my first two years. Freshman year was so hard for me, adjusting to a new school and not doing well at all, I was running and trying to follow the footsteps of my talented siblings, I had new friends, and everything was really hard. And I had such a bad attitude. This was the time where I felt so alone. And feeling alone, sucks. I don’t sugar coat things, it really sucks. This is when I hated life, and I expressed that to almost everyone. My friends that knew me saw how miserable I was, and I was not afraid of being angry and bringing others down with me. I felt like I was depressed and just trying to find myself. This continued for 2 years until I saw a change in myself, and I started to change. I started to become happier, I starting following the examples of my siblings instead of rebelling and pushing every standard they set away. And I changed! I changed completely and grew into the person I am today. But one of the hardest things for me to get over, was being constantly reminded of who I used to be by my friends and family. Here I was, this new and changed person after struggling for so many years, and I felt I was still stuck in my past, I was still being reminded of that and I hated that! Coming home from college to visit was rough. I was a different person when I left home than when I came back, and I loved the new me and where I was at BYU. But coming home felt like all my mistakes, all my past were back again, and I was being reminded of that old me. And I knew, I had to forgive myself and let go of the old me. I didn’t know what to expect with the new me, and I knew I would lose some friends, but I am so grateful for the new me. I had to forgive others, but once I finally forced myself to apply the atonement and to forgive myself, such a burden was lifted off my shoulders.  It’s a liberating feeling you can’t really describe.
We will still remember our mistakes, our past, and maybe we should count that as a blessing, because without remembering it, we would not be able to build upon our past towards a better future.
For those of you who don’t know about the atonement, I urge you to learn about it. It is a gift, a gift of hope, a gift of healing. It is a gift that can and should be used for all of the moments in our life, in happiness and sadness, joy or pain.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf says the following about the atonement which really hits home for me. “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely… He Loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
I don’t know what you are going through today. And I do know some of you are struggling. Some of you have gone through things unimaginable. Some of you might be hurting, might be questioning. But God does know you. He knows you personally. He knows exactly how you feel.  You may not think he knows, but as you learn and apply the atonement to your life, you will come to know that he is deeply aware of you and your life. This is a God of love, he will never leave your side even if you may feel like he is nowhere to be found.  Many of us are going through trials that we may feel like no one in the world has ever gone through, but there is someone. Someone, who because of the atonement and his eternal love for us, will never abandon you.
Agency is such a gift, such a blessing that we have. There is a plan for us, and we can choose to follow that plan or not to, plain and simple. Heavenly Father knows you. He loves you. He wants you to be eternally happy. But according to your God-given agency, the choice is yours.
God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. This is the message I will be teaching the people of Chile. I will be teaching them that they are children of God. That they have a God, who loves them. That because of the atonement, we can return and live with God after our mortal journey on earth is complete. That this gospel, is the gospel of happiness. This gospel is a worldwide gospel. I will be a representative of Jesus Christ, and teach the people of Chile to come unto Him, to find hope in Him. I will teach the people of Chile to move on from their past, and to become a new person, to forgive others, to forgive themselves.
This gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You all need to find out for yourself. You need to pray, read the scriptures, read the Book of Mormon, find out for yourself if it is true. It took me almost 4 years of really trying to gain a testimony, to find out if this was true, and even worth it. And I can tell you with all my heart, waiting and pondering and working towards gaining that testimony for so long, was SO worth it. For many of you, it could be quickly, for some, it could be a lifetime, but isn’t that what true faith is for? My piece of direction for all of you is this: If you are struggling, hold on. If you are questioning, hold on and find out for yourself. Satan is trying to get everyone that he can. Look at how much he is attacking, look at how many people are attacking the church. Why would they be attacking something so much, if something wasn’t true?
I don’t know everything, nor will I ever, but I do know somethings. If you want to find true happiness, living the gospel of Jesus Christ is true happiness. You cannot just gain it, you have to work for it, and you have to choose it. Find out for yourself. Forgive others, and forgive yourself. You have a plan. You are a child of God.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Man has it been a crazy week. Like really crazy. And it´s only been a week! So to start from the beginning. Me Elder Maser and Elder brown (who are all from Colorado) well, we boarded the plane and pulled off from the gate to head to Atlanta, and then our main source shut off. So we have to pull back in, got it fixed, took like an hour and then a storm hit in Colorado. So we waiting, and finally got up in the air, by that time we flew to Atlanta and they had a storm, so we flew to Tennessee, and waiting in the plane for 2 hours haha, in a really hot plane with frustrated people. We finally made it to Atlanta after everyone getting sick on the plane and throwing up (thankfully I didn’t, but was so close) and there we were, stuck in Atlanta, at 12 am, missed our connecting flight to Chile. But we were happy and just made the best of it. So we rebooked our flights, and this whole time I am calling missionary travel, in which they really didn’t help. We were not old enough to book a hotel through the airlines, and literally EVERY hotel was booked. So we were just walking and missionary travel told us to wait in the airport till our next flight, which would be 20 hours till our next flight. We were not about that life. So we meet our angel Christy Lynn. This 40 or 50 year old women, super Christian, who was like, I ain't having you 19 year olds stay at the airport! So she drove us around and by that time it was 3 am. We went to like 4 hotel and all of them were booked. By that time, it was super early in the morning, and we were just laughing. Just so funny, 3 missionaries lost in Atlanta, with this lady driving us around. She was so amazing though. She was praying for us out loud and just so sweet! My favorite quote from her, (I am not an angel Elder, just a believer.) So we three elders call each other Skyteam now. Taufa and Bellnap, they were awesome! So chill. Elder Taufa gave us ties. We went and tracked and it was burning hot and humid, oh and it was all in Spanish. So we were just lost the whole time, but the people were so humble. So awesome. They fed us, we went tracking more, taught lessons, and it was the missionary life! Looks like I got to spend a day in Atlanta, where I thought I would be called originally because I love black people. Looks like I did!

Finally we made it to the airport, and got on our flight and flew for 9 hours. It was a good flight, just super long and hey, I didn’t get locked in the bathroom like I did when I was little, so I conquered that fear! Haha, no but we finally made it to Chile and this member picked us up. He drove us to the CCM (MTC in Chile) and on the way just drove through the city (no speed limit really, we were just flying) and saw 2 dead dogs on the road, kind of sad. But we made it and they literally just threw us right in. No orientation because we missed everything the previous day when they did it. It was a little overwhelming, everything was in Spanish and I was just so lost! But happy none the less. I got my companion, his name is Elder Jenks from North Dakota.

Haha, the fire alarm just went off and all of the elders in the computer lab just laughed and refused to leave. We want to email our families!!! Everyone is typing like savages. Well, we just had to leave the building because of the fire alarm, and when they told us we could come back in the building, our district and the other one just BOOKED it back inside. That would happen to us!  

The first few days have been SO long. SO long. And the CCM here, everyone is pretty much native, and we have like less than half white people. My district is all white people thank goodness, because we hear the natives talk and we are just lost puppies. It is SO fast Spanish here, SO fast. But we have picked up a lot already. I can pray in Spanish and talk a little. It feels like I am backtracking though these past few days, and not getting it. Just so hard to form sentences and to understand and to talk with so many tenses. The schedule here is kind of insane. Not kind of, but really insane. We live in a building right across from the temple, like right across. And we wake up at 6:45 am every day to what!? Church music. Church music just blasting over a stereo! It is like seminary with Danny all over again! Then we get ready, go to personal study for an hour, then eat breakfast, then exercise, in which we go to this park and play soccer, they have like cement or clay courts here with nets, it’s pretty fun, I such at soccer though compared to native and other native elders. But it’s good. Me and this other elder did splits and went running one time, SO nice. SO nice to just run. Then we come back, shower and get ready, and our day is packed till 10 pm. Strict schedule. Like the Provo MTC is nothing compared to this! It’s like the CCM is on steroids. But we are learning a lot. 

We already have been teaching 2 investigators, Marco and Ishmael (our teachers just pretend like they are other people) but we have to do it only in Spanish. It is muy dificil. So me and my companion are teaching them and it has been hard! I wish I had English honestly. I wish so bad. We taught in English this lesson just for practice, man I felt like I was on fire! I loved it; I felt the spirit so much! But, apparently someone needs me in Spanish and here in Chile. Not sure who, or when, or anything, but just 1 person would be worth it. 

Spiritually it has been a ride. I feel like I have spiritual highs one moment and the very next I could feel so low. On Sunday we listened to a devotional in English from Elder Holland, and man did I need that. I needed to hear that our sacrifice is worth it. That we are just experiencing a glimpse of what Jesus Christ experienced. We are barely on the edge of Gethsemane, yet he did it all. He did it all for us. When I am feeling low, or just frustrated with the language or my companion, I know that the savior knows how I feel. I know that I am only experiencing a glimpse of what he feels for us, and that really comfort me. Christ loves everyone. Literally everyone.

But I don’t know what else to say! It is really cold here, especially in the mornings when we have exercise! Really cold! We went outside and have been talking to natives here, and they are very loving! Just awesome people, yet sometimes we can’t say a thing or do not understand a thing because it is so fast! One time, we walked away and these people just laughed at our Spanish! But that’s ok! The Lord is on our side. Umm we went to the temple yesterday (Tuesday) and I really needed it. I love the temple! Sitting in the celestial room and just praying to God asking for help. I have never felt so close or prayed so hard and felt like he was listening. The food here is alright. The bread. El pan. Oh man, SO good. I have it for every meal, and thank goodness I can’t gain weight because I would be getting fat already. And we have soda here for every meal too. So if I come back chunky, that’s why. My district is great! I can defiantly tell a difference between people who just graduated high school and people who didn’t a really big difference! Some are prepared, some are not as much. I am so glad I went to college first. I learned so much and some people are really struggling with home sickness. Sorry mother, I am not as much! But I do miss it! Especially the Colorado mountains and air! The air here is kind of bad.

We will be here till August 25. Man that seems like so long! I just want to get out in the field and be lost even more! But my mission, Santiago Sur (South) is I think one of the smallest missions in the world besides temple square. So that’s cool! I heard our President is really great and it’s kind of Ghetto. Especially in one area, super Ghetto, so I hope I get sent their! 

Life is good. Mi vida es muy bien. We have like 10 min breaks every hour to go to the bathroom or go outside and what not, and there is this sign across the CCM hanging saying Salvame, yo quiero vivir! Meaning save me, I want to live! With a picture of a baby embryo. So we say that when our break is done and we have to go back inside, into a basement room, with no windows, for the rest of the day. 

That em mi vida en Chile! God is good. I know he will strengthen me and he knows how I feel. Being a missionary is hard, but it is worth it. I pray for you all so much! He listens to you, he knows you by name. He loves you with all his heart. 

I love you all! SO blessed. So blessed. Pray for me with the language please! Love you!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Carney (La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias)

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