Sami singing the song she wrote

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oct 25 email and pictures

Once again we have a very short email from Sami. This time the computer deleted her email (or so she says) - and she only had time and inclination to type a very short summary. I fear that I am doomed to never receive the long chatting emails that I desire - but she did send a bunch of pictures - and since a picture speaks a thousand words, I guess she did ok.
Yeah, my email deleted itself. I hate computers. I don´t want to write it again. Sorry. Also I think Hermana Grahn probably would like to leave (the internet cafe).

Here is a summary:

I am alive
The food is good
There are no bathrooms in the mountains except the mountains I want chocolate and music (cds of classical choral and instrumental (womens chorus etc.) and various sheet music (o divine redeemer etc) Art
(a friend from college) should stop having swine flu. You are having fun as a family. This is good. PMG (Preach My Gospel) is also good. Halloween is exciting. I hate technology. I have your letters I will write you a real letter.
Hermana Smith

(I had emailed her asking about her trip to the mountains last week & what she wanted for Christmas. I also told her about our family event carving pumpkins with her sister, Jennie, 'participating' via video call from Orleans, France, and that we would be using 'Preach My Gospel' as the basis for our 1st Sunday lessons in RS next year - thanks in large part to her great enthusiasm for it)

Hermana Smith and her companion Hermana Grahn in their apartment in San Carlos
Apartment in San Carlos
Sami and the 3 other hermanas that live with her in San Carlos
This picture was taken on the trip to the falls last P-day
Hermana Grahn keeping Sami company while Sami slept off her illness on a trail near the falls

 Tarbinas Falls

Hermana Grahn by the falls

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Picture from Sami's P-day outing

I borrowed this picture from the blog of another missionary (Elder Salomon Jaar) in Sami's zone . He took pictures of the outing & this is the only one she is in because she was so sick. She is the 4th one down - with her eyes shut, looking miserable.  Hopefully she'll be able to visit the waterfall again sometime when she feels well enough to enjoy it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sami's letter of Oct 19

Sami sent a very short letter today. She went on an outing to the mountains with her zone, but she was sick the whole time. She did however, manage to find some blessings in her situation.

Hola Familia

My first 2 weeks have been really great. I have a good story about today, though. Remember how I always made jokes about Montezuma´s Revenge? Well it´s actually not that funny. My body does not like me right now. Or for the past 15 hours or so. We had a zone activity today going to a waterfall in the mountains. It was fun. Expecially when I threw up 3 times. I would feel better for a while and think it was fine but then a couple hours later I would have to throw up again. The first time I threw up honestly was really funny though. I was in Chillán in front of the chapel there. We were waiting for the Elders to arrive and I just started throwing up on the lawn. Right next to the sign ¨La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días¨. I think it was a really great PR opportunity for the church here in Chile, especially Chillán. :)

SO I´m just going to write one email today because I DO NOT feel good. But the church is still true so that´s good. My zone sang something in zone conference so technically I did sing. The other Hermanas have had 2 baptisms since I got here but we haven´t had any. The people we are teaching aren't ready, I think, to make such a big commitment with Heavenly Father. Which is fine with me. It is better that they don´t make it if they don´t understand the significance of the covenant of baptism. I am trying to be better at helping them understand the importance and the blessings that will come but it is still a little hard to communicate the way I want to. I am definitely not fluent in Spanish but I think I get a little better every day, which is good.

I´m glad I could be sick today though. There is always something we can learn from everything if we think about it. I have been wanting to understand my investigators more and their difficulty of making the decision to be baptized or not or come to church or not. It doesn't seem too terribly hard to me because I was raised in the church (thanks, Mom) so there will always be a part of me that doesn't understand them because my challenges and difficulties have been different.  But being sick was not fun. I wanted to enjoy myself. I wanted to not throw up and explore instead of sleeping on the dirt path for a few hours because I felt so tired. My spirit was willing but my body was weak. This life is about overcoming the natural man and giving our lives and our will over to our Heavenly Father, who knows what we need better than we do anyway. It´s hard to try to overcome the natural man and tiring too. I know. I hope I can learn more lessons, maybe a little less grossly. Anyway, I have to go rest it up in my bed.


Hermana Smith

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sami's first E-mail from Chile - Oct 12, 2009

We finally got our first emails from Chile - Sami is serving in a city called San Carlos - it is NE of Concepcion. Her district meetings are in Chillan (south of her) and her Zone meetings are in Talca (north of her). As you can tell from her email, she has already had the chance to teach investigators (or at least listen to her companion teach them since her Spanish is not up to par yet).

The first email is one she sent to me:

Soy Hermana Smith. Escuchen a mis palabras, por favor. That was probably all wrong. No sé. Anyway...Chile is awesome. Super bien. I will be getting letters this Wednesday because of zone conference but besides that and interviews once a cambio (transfer) I´m not sure when I will get them. I think probably sometimes at our district meetings in Chillán but not every week.

I have about an hour for email. It is not a set rule but they don´t want you to spend all day at the computer. I use an internet café. I don´t think it is very expensive. My companion, Hermana Grahn, said that it is usually less than $1000 (pesos) for an hour.

Yeah, about that email with the picture.... I definitely did not remember your emai address which is why I put mine too. I was going to tell you my password today but since you are so proactive I don´t have to. :) I appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication.

El Presidente y Hermana Chavez are amazing! I am so excited to have them as my mission president people. The first thing Hermana Chavez told us when we got to Concepcion is that they don´t eat dogs in Chile. (Apparently this is a misconception many people have). By they way, I am not longer sure if some of the words I use actually exist so watch out for that. I am getting used to making intelligent guesses about Spanish words that may or may not exist and I think I am doing that with English too.

My companion is Hermana Grahn. She is from B.C.! (Victoria, maybe...) She has been in Chile a little over a year and I am so grateful she is my trainer. We only speak Spanish with each (except when I forget and start speaking English) Sometimes it is hard when we are with other Elders in our mission because some of them speak English to each other I think... But I probably am progressing fast. I can´t actually tell except  now the jumbling sounds more like words. I can understand probably about 75% of what people say but some people i can hardly understand because they talk so fast or slur their words so much. Hermana Grahn said that when she could understand all the members in the ward she could pretty much understand everyone else. I´m still working on understanding everyone in the ward...

There are 2 sets of sisters in San Carlos and we share the whole city and are assigned to the same ward (there is only one here). I think there are around 80 active members in the ward but I´m not sure. There are definitely a lot more less active people here. There are somewhere around 10ish people in my district and I don´t know about my zone but our conference on Wednesday is in Talca (1 1/2 hours north of San Carlos) so we will be gone almost the whole day for it. The Bishop of our ward wants us to have a special musical number in Sacrament meeting every week so I think I will be singing a lot here...(I am glad she will be able to touch people with her beautiful voice - hearing her sing in church is a spiritual experience.)

I think there are more questions in your email but I want to tell you about some of our investigators.

Michael y Mari - They are new converts from a few months ago, I think. They are awesome! We are going to their house tonight for Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) and to teach a lesson about Lehi´s dream and how we can share the gospel with the people we love

Javiera y Tania - They are cousins and I think they will both be baptized next week but we won´t know until today. Javiera wants to be baptized but she doesn´t feel like she is worthy so we are going to teach her more about the Atonement to help here understand it better. Tania is really excited to be baptized and we might start teaching her mom as well (Tania is only 11 or so)

Alejandra - She is a miracle! She wants to be baptized on the 25 of this month but she smokes (you have to give up addictions and bad habits before baptism, basically follow all the commandments for at least 2 weeks before you can be baptized). We taught here about the word of wisdom yesterday and she said she will keep it. I can tell she really loves the Book of Mormon. I know she can give up smoking because I can tell she wants to follow the example of Jesus Christ more.

There are more but I have been here for a long time so I will tell you next week. It sounds like you are having fun in WA and various other parts of the world. I will tell you more about Chile. Someday. The houses and buildings are cold so I pretty much wear one of Hermana Grahn´s coats all day (remember when I didn't bring my winter coat? That was a bad idea). But I am going to buy one soon, maybe today. Anyway, I love you all and I love talking about the gospel. One day I will be able to talk about it in Spanish!!!

And I sat next to Hermano Amado on the plane. I don´t know his first name. (Hermano Amado sat next to Sami on the flight from SLC to LAX last Monday. He is a member of the 1st quorum of the Seventies. He is from Guatemala and is over the missions in Chile. He was in town for conference - he gave a prayer at the Sat afternoon conference.)

Hermana Smith

ps. Brian is definitely the rey de Craigslist. Mad props, my brother. (I told Sami about all of the cool things Brian has gotten free off of Craigslist recently)

The following email is one she sent to her dad:


Go ahead and send Sheena and Sydney. no one would notice a differece (our dogs - those who know them and my husband know why he offered to send them). I don´t think I´ve ever seen this many dogs in my life. I am working a little outside of Chillán in a town called San Carlos. I´m not sure how many people live here. Maybe about 40,000 but that is definitely a guess. There are 2 companionships of sisters here and we share the whole city and live in the same house. I love it here! The people are super friendly. I can´t understand everyone all of the time but I can understand more than I thought I would, which isn't that much I guess. :) The weather here is like Washington except most people don´t have indoor heating besides a wood stove but my bed is so warm thanks to the fleece blanket you guys sent me! My companion has been here in San Carlos for a couple months so we already have people she and her previous companion were teaching. The members of the ward are so nice! They are helping me learn Spanish better. In Chile they like people with light colored hair. Even though my hair is red they call me ¨rubio¨ which means blond. I´m not sure if I spelled that right...

The food is really delicious too. So far I have eaten a lot of bread, rice, and chicken. They only have one large meal every day and then they eat small snacks like bread and drink tea later. This is called ¨once¨, like eleven. Again, I don´t know how to spell so that might be wrong. We aren't supposed to participate in once (a rule), I´m not sure of the exact reason, maybe because it is so late and we could be teaching lessons.

Thank you for the information about the life-threatening location of Chillán. :) (There have been several serious earthquakes in Chillan - one in 1939 destroyed the town - which has hopefully been rebuilt to better withstand future quakes.)  My companion (Hermana Grahn) said she hasn't felt any earthquakes...since she got to San Carlos ;) But I guess we´ll see. After all, only time will tell.

I will be stocking up on food today so I will keep your advice in mind. (He suggested some food storage for emergencies)

I will try to get someone to teach me some (Chilean) folk songs on the guitar some P-day. Probably not today but I want to learn some too! The only songs I know with guitar are in English so that doesn't help me very much here.

¡Pues, hasta lunes!

Hermana Smith

ps. I think you would like Chile. Me encanta San Carlos.

This last email was to Sami's sister Jennie in Orleans, France.


My P-day is Monday but today is apparently kind of like a mini-September 18(?) so a lot of the stores are closed. Which is sad because I need to buy boots for the rain. It was only bad one day but Apparently it rains on and off in the spring too. My flight was good minus the times when the old man next to me was poking me because I could not understand him. He was really nice but the flight was long...

I did get your package with the headbands. I love them except the little decorations fell off of 2 of them. I really am proud of your craftsmanship. So fine. :) Really though, I love them and wore them every day which is probably why they are broken now.

I appreciate your stickers. They mean a lot to me. Really. Sometimes I think cute stuff is gross but not when it is from you!!!!! And other people that I like. I can hear a band right now with drums. Maybe it is a parade with the police!!! I feel like I know this song because I have heard it before but I don´t know. It also sounds like they are playing 3 songs at once...

How is France? Are the gross men treating you well? DON´T LET THEM TREAT YOU TO ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my warning and word of wisdom for you. I am very wise so you should heed my counsel. Have you found more permanent housing yet? How are the schools you are working in? What´s the story, morning glory? Digame.

Hermana Smith

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Picture and Email from Chile

We finally received the email from the mission secretary in the Chile Concepcion mission with info about Sami & a scanned copy of a letter she had written. Turns out she had given them the wrong email address which is why we did not receive ours with everyone else.

President and Hermana Chavez with Sami
Sami's companion is Hermana Grahn and they are serving in or near Chillan, Chile. The mission secretary said he overheard Sami talking with her companion about setting up a choir in their ward and doing a musical number for an upcoming Zone conference.

Below is a transcript of her letter
Dear Family,
    I have arrived in Concepcion safely! President and Sister Chavez are so nice and friendly. Sister Chavez is so cute! I'm not sure where I will be yet except it is 1 1/2-(hrs-ish) north of here. I'm sure that really narrows it down. :)  Concepcion is so beautiful. It looks a lot like Washington. Very green. When we were flying from Santiago to Concepcion I could see the tops of the Andes Mountains from the window. Awesome! I hope you can read this, I lost my pen somewhere between here and LAX. I am so excited to get to work! By the way, I don't know Spanish very well. That's about to change. After I understand what people are saying. There are apparently a lot of stray dogs here. Good thing I love animals that could potentially bite me. :)  President Chavez told me they like the Elders better anyway. Well, the point is that I am alive and in one piece. Keep your fingers crossed. Watch Elder Holland's talk. I love you, legitimately.
      Hermana Smith

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sami called from Santiago

We finally got a call from Sami at 4:30am this morning (7:30 am Santiago time) from the Santiago airport.

We had known there were plane problems in SLC - but Sami said that they arrived at LAX 2 hours late and barely made the flight to Santiago. Since their original plane from SLC did not take off, they were moved to other planes - some of the missionaries in her original group were sent through Dallas instead of LAX.  Sami and her MTC companion, Hermana McDaniels, were the only two sisters going to Chile - but they did not fly together since they are going to different missions. Sami had 2 elders from her MTC district as companions. On the flight to LAX she started talking to the man sitting next to her and learned that he was a General Authority - a member of the Seventies in Chile who had come to SL for conference. On the flight to Santiago she sat by an elderly man who spoke no English - so that was an interesting experience for her.

We are now looking forward to her first email from the mission field on her P-day next Monday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sami's last email (Oct 2) before she left for Chile!

This is Sami's email from Oct 2nd. We had hoped for a nice phone conversation with her today (Oct 5), but only got to talk for a few minutes. She hoped to talk more while in the LAX airport - but it was not to be - so now we will wait for email from Chile.  *** Sami's plane left SLC over an hour late - so they did not have enough time at LAX to make any calls. There are several very disappointed Missionary Moms (and Dads) today.

I got a letter from Alice Sage!!!! (Sami's best friends, Tallia & Jon Bryner had their baby daughter Alice on Sept 28) Cute!!! I am excited for pictures but unless I get them today or tomorrow I don't think I will get them here because I leave so early on Monday.

I think I will try to call Jennie at the Salt Lake airport. Probably around 8:30am-9am Mountain Time but I'm not sure how long it will take to get through security or if I need to do anything else. If I don't get to talk to her then I will probably try again at LAX around 11:30 am Pacific Time. Sorry for the confusion, Jen.

Mom and Dad, I will try to call from LAX probably anywhere from 11 am to 12:30 pm. It will depend on who I am with and how much time we have but I will definitely be calling from LAX. (Jennie got her call in France - but we did not get the expected LAX call)

Packing is pretty crazy with General Conference because our schedule is so weird now. Take good notes! I am thinking of questions I want answered so I can think about them during General Conference. I have a lot of questions about the Atonement for this one. My teacher Hermana Bott summed it up perfectly when she said, "I have a lot of questions but I have no doubts". That is how I feel. I know this church is truly led under the direction of Jesus Christ and that this message is so vitally crucial for everyone to hear. I have a lot of questions but they help me understand what I know better. I am so excited for General Conference!!!!! Way to go out with a bang. Haha.

I think I might just try to mail a package home because I don't have too much stuff to send home. If I don't think I will need something I can just give it to someone else unless it is so unique I will never be able to replace it. This sucks. I just talked around saying one word because I can't remember how to spell it in English and I don't want anyone to make fun of me.

I'm sorry to hear about Jack Hinckle (the grandfather of some friends who had moved from Kent to Idaho - they were back in town for his funeral) but I am glad you were able to see the Sotutus. I miss them. They are so cute.

The package is here but I haven't had time to pick it up yet. At least I think it is from you. At any rate, someone sent me a package and it is probably you but I have to go now. I love you. I will call you so I will not talk to you anymore now.

You are great.



Hermana Smith

I will be in Chile soon so do not write me here. I will not reply. By "here" I mean the MTC. Peace out.

Below are some FACEBOOK pictures of the new and improved Bryner family.

Tallia, Jon and Alice Sage Bryner

 First real outfit

Alice and her new best friend - the family dog
Some last pictures from the MTC

MTC Companions together one last time

Hermanas Smith and McDaniels as they leave the MTC

Some of the elders traveling to Chile with Sami

  Pinata from Sami's friends Tallia, Jon & Alice

What is left of the pinata

Letter from Sami - started Sep 18 - finish Sept 25.

This is a transcription of a letter Sami wrote us over 2 consecutive P-days .

Hola Familia!
Como fue su semana? Guess what? I just wrote you an email. Sweet. So Hna McDaniels and I have a progressing investigator in the TEC (Teaching Evaluation Center). His name is Diego. I'm not sure if he is 18 or 27. Hermana McDaniels thought he said 27 and I thought he said 18. Oh the joys of Spanish. I guess we’ll never know how old he is. I didn’t get to talk to Annie from the RC on Wednesday. I’m not sure if she got on to chat or forgot. I know I should (resuming this letter exactly 1 week later) finish what I start but time goes by so fast.  I still have more letters to write but oh well. New news about my progressing investigator you just read about. He is leaving! He got an internship so he can’t work at the MTC anymore because he doesn’t have time. Hna McDaniels and I are very sad. I really felt a connection. Like I was able to help him with his concerns and problems through the Book of Mormon. And now we can’t teach him anymore. I think the field is like that a lot. Either you get transferred or they get busy or just don’t want to hear about the gospel anymore. But you can’t avoid. You can’t help loving people when you share something so special and sacred to you with them. It is impossible. I am so excited for the field in a few weeks. It will probably be the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know if I put everything I have into the work it will bring me some of the greatest joy I will ever feel. It will bless and affect the rest of my life. I didn’t really understand missions until I got here. I still don’t fully understand the magnitude and sanctity of this calling, but I know it is something very important. And I know it is something I am supposed to do. I love it. It feels so right. It is softening my rough edges and making me better than I was. I care about people more. I want to learn more. I have more compassion towards other people. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I am on the right path. It’s a long one, but it’s the right one. Look and study in ‘Preach My Gospel’ in chapter 4. Study the section about prayer of faith. I want to send you quotes from ‘Preach My Gospel’, but I don’t have it with me. There are some awesome quotes by President Hinckley and President Hunter about prayer. You should read Mosiah 27 as a family and discuss Alma the Younger’s experience and study more about his life after his conversion. I love you guys so much. Write to me about new things you are learning about anything. I want to know. Enjoy the pictures. I will try to be better at writing better letters.
Hermana Smith

Some more pictures from the MTC

Sami and her 2 companions before Hermana Schiffler left for Madrid

Some Serious Studying at the MTC

Samis primeros maestros Hermana Warr y Hermano Christensen - Sami's 1st teachers

 Containing the Spread of Disease at the MTC

Some of the Elders at the MTC

Elders Haws, Ricks, ??, Whiting, Jewkes & Call

Sami's email from Sept 25

I am a bit behind in posting to Sami's blog - so while I am waiting for a phone call I am afraid I might not get (her plane to Chile leaves in 35 minutes) I will update the blog.

Not a lot of time today so my email will be a little lame. And I type slower because my English is terrible now. I haven't gotten my flight plans yet. All the missionaries going to Santiago East (4 in my district) got their flight plans but all of going to Concepcion haven't gotten ours yet. I'm getting a little antsy. I want to go! But I still love it here. Prep time is running out. My Spanish definitely isn't up to par but that was to be expected. I sent some letters home today with pictures. I didn't know Jennie's address so I couldn't send her anything. Sad. But she told me about her sketchy men experiences. I don't know how I feel about it. I'm excited for the package(s)! I think I will have a lot of things I won't be able to take with me though. A lot.

I only have a little more than one week left here. It is so crazy but I'm gad I had this time to prep. I think Heavenly Father sent me Spanish speaking so I would have enough time to firm up my knowledge of gospel things to strengthen my own testimony a ton without leaving me here long enough to go crazy. It's been working great so far. I love the scriptures. They are so cool! I did not know that before. My bad. Have you been studying with Preach My Gospel? It is a great resource for everyone because it is designed to help the missionary so they can help the people. So genius.

Just kidding. i just got my flight plans! Delta flight 4701 SLC to LAX 9:51 am to 10:45am. Then Lan Chile S.A. LAX to SCL flight # 601 (Santiago) 1:20 pm to 5:25 am. Then Lan Chile S.A. SCL to CC (Concepcion) fight # 203 8:00 am to 9:05 am

I don't have time to tell you any more because I have to email Jennie and write a letter to Amy. Love you all!!! I am leaving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hermana Smith