December 25, 2015
Missionaries are encouraged to email or write “old-fashioned” letters home each week and commit to only calling home on Christmas Day and Mother’s Day (unless an emergency, during their mission). Going months without a phone call or a text message is hard, but for a missionary, it’s a sign of dedication to their mission and we love him for this.
Today our family got the best Christmas present ever! Chandler called us around 2:40 pm (6:40 his time in Chile). Of course it was amazing to see his smiling face and see him so happy. He sounded amazing and we treasured every minute we had with him.
He said the best presents he received for Christmas were the letters and testimonies from family and friends and the iPod full of inspiring music, wireless speaker and ear phones (missionaries aren’t allowed to listen to “regular” music and he really misses music so any music is loved).
Today, he and his companion ate lunch at the home of a church member and then went to another house (hermana Swenia) that had a computer and was able to Skype us from their home. While we chatted with him he had a fan blowing on his face because its so hot and he sipped on a soda float of sorts (looked like cream soda with ice cream in it). The sweet lady of the house brought him a refill toward the end of the call and then told him she had a dish of ice cream for him when he was done. They are obviously taking great care of my sweet son and for this I am so grateful.
It was fun to open the Christmas package we recieved christmas eve from him. He sent us two beautiful scarves, a pottery pig from Pomire, a “Bombilla” (a special metallic drinking straw used to drink Mate), decorative hollow calabash gourd (used as a cup to drink Mate), wooden statue of a Mapuche Indian, and a wooden toy. So sweet of him to think of us.
We spend a lot of time catching up and talking about Christmas and he had a lot of questions for the family. We also had a list of questions prepared to ask him so we wouldn’t waste even a minute of time and we could enjoy him to the fullest and learn more about his world. I’m listing a few of the questions we asked and some BRIEF answers on some of the topics we talked about to give you the gist of our conversation.
Chandler had a cute Spanish accent so we asked him if it was weird to be speaking English right now as occasionally he would forget an English word. Yes, we speak Spanish always, but occasionally we speak some Spanglish at home.
What do you have too much of (what did you bring you don’t use)?
Nothing really. I use everything I brought.
What food do you crave?
Mexican Food. The food here isn’t very flavorful or spicy. No beans and rice, just rice and chicken.
What do you wish you would have brought with you:
Regular shorts. Its very hot and it would be nice to have some shorts besides athletic shorts.
Do you need anything?
No, I have everything I need.
Are there street vendors in your area? Do they offer good food?
Yes, we eat the street food. I sometimes get sick because of the food I eat (I ate some bloody chicken one time). I’ve been sick this week for about 3 days, but it may be a virus. Ive been really sick about 5 times because of food. But, even if Im sick, I still want to go out and work because I don’t want to stay home.
What has been your favorite P-day activity so far?
Going to the town Pomire where they make the pottery. This is where I bought the clay pig I sent to you.
Whats your favorite lesson?
My favorite lesson to teach is lesson #2 on the plan of salvation. I made up a drawing that I like to use for this lesson.
How many lessons a day do you usually give?
3 or 4 per day.
Who is your favorite family?
The family we baptized in November. Rosa, Mateo and Magno. I love them so much. People usually have 4 names, so we just use their first name. They usually have a first name, middle name, mothers maiden name and their fathers last name so its kinda confusing so we just go by their first name.
What is your favorite smell in your area right now?
The smell of a back yard barbecue.
My companion’s feet.
When will you get a mamita? ( a Mamita is someone who does the laundry, and sometimes prepares meals for the missionaries)
Saddly, Our mission doesn’t have mamita’s so I will not have one (only in the south and the north).
How often do you do laundry?
I try to wear my shirts two days in a row and then do laundry when I need to. But, since I only have 3 short sleeve shirts, that means Im doing laundry a lot, so I have a lady from the church tailoring some of my long sleeve shirts into short sleeves so I have more shirts.
What’s the scariest thing that has happened to you so far where you have felt protected as a missionary?
Nothing really. I haven’t been scared yet. I still haven’t been robbed. A lot of people have been robbed, but Im not afraid to get robbed.
What if they want your calculator watch (haha)?
I won’t give it to them. Usually their guns are fake. All the guys in the mission that have been robbed, the gun has been fake.
How many members in your ward/branch?
50 members attend, but there are about 850 on the records, so a lot of our work is on the inactive and verifying the records.
How hot is it?
Its so hot right now. Its hotter than Hawaii. No one has air conditioning.
Are you sleeping well?
I’m sleeping great. I blink and its morning.
How is the food?
The food is good. The members feed me too much food. Lots of bread and soda. I like Coke now.
What is the best food you’ve eaten?
The food at our Peruvian Restaurant. We eat there at least once a week, sometimes 3 times a week.
What is the weirdest food you’ve eaten? Horse Jerky, I was going to send you some, but I think it’s illegal in the United states.
How many dinner appointments do you get? Lunch?
We usually eat each day for lunch (the main meal) at a members house. Its usually some kind of chicken and rice. The bread here is so good. Its all homemade and it’s everywhere. Today for lunch we ate at Antonio’s house (the son of the blind guy with no legs) and we had bread with sausage in it. It was so good. Antonio has been having problems with his leg infection and because the infection is in the muscle, he may loose his leg. Its very sad.
How are your clothes?
Good. There are no dry cleaners in our area for us to take our suits to get cleaned. There was a dry cleaner in a gas station, so we took our suits to get cleaned and they told us it was broken.
How are your Shoes?
I mostly wear my brown shoes everyday because they are the most comfortable. We walk everywhere. Our mission is the second smallest mission in the world next to Temple square. We can walk from one end of our area to the other in 20 – 30 minutes. Since the side walks are so uneven, my shoes get really scuffed on the toes so its hard to keep them looking good. I walk about 5 miles a day.
My good stance socks are being ruined from wearing them so much.
What is your flat/apartment like?
Our house is kinda like a trailer that has been cut in half and stacked on top of each other. The top level is two bedrooms (one for my companion and I and the other for the other two missionaries) and the bottom level is the kitchen and bathroom.
Are your neighbors friendly or scared of you?
They are friendly. They are use to the missionaries. Missionaries have lived here for a long time. There is a drug dealer on the corner who sells mostly pot and cocaine.
Can you send us more photos?
I only have 1 hour and 15 minuets on my P-day to use the computer. 15 minutes of that time is allotted for me to write my weekly report to the mission president, so I have about an hour to read and write all my emails. In our area there really isn’t WIFI so, It takes about 5 minutes to upload a photo to send to you on email, so I usually can only send about 3 photos because I run out of time. But I will try to send more when I can.
During the call his friends, Coulson and Alec, were able to join in on the Skype and Chandler loved seeing them.
Before ending the call, he started sharing with us his favorite lesson, “the plan of salvation” in Spanish, then he got interrupted by a neighbor who was chatting back and forth with him through the window which was fun to see their interaction.
He then shared his testimony of the gospel in English with us, how grateful he is for the Atonement and the blessing it is in his life,and can be in our lives, and expressing the fact that he knows he is where he needs to be at this time in his life.
Of course it brought tears to my eyes to see my son speaking Spanish like a native and observing his growth and dedication to his work.
I love Elder Chandler Brown more than words can express and Im so grateful for the opportunity we had today to see and talk with him on Christmas day.
One Proud Mama.