It is for this reason that I have decided to post a few things from my past. Roughly 14 years ago (has it really been that long) I had the privilege of serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was assigned to the Chile, Antofagasta Mission, which is located in the northern most regions of that nation. For those of you who may not know much about northern Chile (and I knew very little before going there) it is the world's driest desert. It is so dry that NASA actually chose to test its Mars Rover in this part of the world, since its terrain is the closest to that of Mars itself. In addition, northern Chile is full of mines (the most famous being the San Pedro mine where the Chilean minors were recently rescued), with a particular emphasis in copper mining. Anyway, here are a few pictures from my time in Chile.
***Note: My experience using a scanner is pathetic to say the least. I apologize for the rough nature of these pictures. Since this is my first attempt (and I do have more material from my missionary days) I plan on improving in the future. If you have any tips please share them with me.***
Before actually living in Chile, I spent two months in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. As is the case with every Mormon missionary, I was assigned to a companion and a district. My MTC companion was Jason Castro (the picture on the top right), who was twice the missionary I ever was. And as you can tell from the picture in the bottom left, my two months in the MTC were during the beautiful months of fall, which made the experience even more enjoyable. The MTC was, in my opinion, a highlight of the mission. To this day I keep in touch with almost everyone in my old district. It's no exaggeration when I say that they, and the MTC experience in general, changed my life forever.
Even though the MTC was a remarkable time, that doesn't mean it was all easy. We usually spent 8-10 hours (if not more) in the classroom (the SAME classroom) going over Spanish and other lessons. Needless to say, sometimes the grind got the better of us:
Here are some of the stereotypical views of northern Chile. Like I said, it's a bit dry.
The picture on the top right is of my very first "Mamita" and "Papito." In Chile, most missionaries usually live with church members who almost always go above and beyond to help us out. I was lucky to have Mamita Ivonne and Papito Jose, who were, BY FAR, the best "Papitos" I ever had. I was their first "gringo" and they went the extra mile to help me out, especially with my very pathetic Spanish. If there is a heaven, Ivonne and Jose are going to be in the best part of it with the biggest mansion of all (and I'll be moving in with them).
Here are some other wonderful people that I had the privilege of meeting. The picture on the top left was taken during the September 18th festivities commemorating Chilean independence day. The food in those boxes are empanadas...and do I ever miss those AWESOME empanadas!
Here are some additional people I was privileged to meet, teach and even occasionally baptize.
Even more awesome people. The picture on the bottom right was taken just outside of where I lived. In one area I actually lived on the beach. Every once in a while, a group of drunks would get plastered and pass out on the sand. Sometimes they would be so close to the tide that we would have to pull them up shore so they wouldn't drown. On this occasion, I decided to capture the moment.
Chilean money and a packet of my favorite brand of jugo (juice) called Maracuja.
And after two years (which flew by like a dream) I was on my way home. Here is a picture of my flight itinerary and tickets.
These pictures are from my last days in Chile and my return home. On the top left is a picture of Jason Joy, Jason Castro (my old MTC companion), Fransisco Ortiz (another former companion) and myself at the Santiago Temple. The picture on the top right is my group preparing to leave Antofagasta. The rock in the background is the famous "La Portada" of Antofagasta. The bottom right is of Antofagasta from the plane window (obviously). To be honest, it was much harder to go home than it was to leave home. The Chilean people are some of the coolest I have ever met, and I owe them a priceless debt for the impact they have had on my life.Ok, that's my first installment. I hope to be able to find some additional stuff (unfortunately, a lot of it has been lost over the years) to post on this blog.