May 7, 2010

The Mission

Below I have the map of the Chile, Santiago North Mission. It covers the northwest part of the city as well as a little bit of the countryside outside of it. It's not a very big mission, at least in terms of area.

The population of Santiago is approximately 5.5 million people. I figure since my mission covers about a quarter of the city, about 1.4 million of those 5.5 million are in my mission. Below are the populations of the other major cities in the area:

Lampa: 29, 250
Colina: 65, 082
San Felipe: 59, 294
Los Andes: 56, 859

This would make the total population of my mission to be around 1,610,485 or 1.6 million people. Granted, that is a very very rough estimate, since there are also small towns and villages all over the mission. It's one of the most densely populated areas in the country.

This is the link to my mission president's blog. I'm really excited to meet him and the rest of the missionaries there:

Chile Santiago North Mission

Now, normally I wouldn't do this because it would require math (yuck!), but I was really curious to see how many Chileans there are to the number of missionaries in my mission. There are about 175 missionaries serving in the Santiago North Mission, making the ratio roughly 9,000 Chileans to every missionary. I would have subtracted the number of Chileans that are already members from that number, but the LDS members make up less than 1% of the population, so I didn't bother with it.

I did quite a bit of research about Chile, and found that the name "Chile" very possibly came from the indigenous word "Chilli," which means "where the land ends," or "the deepest point on earth." The country has dramatically different climates in every direction: from deserts in the far north, to lakes and glaciers in the far south, with forests and farmland in between. It then has the Andes to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Think of all the different climates in the United States condensed into a 100-mile wide strip of land.

A vast majority of Chileans are Roman Catholic, and they are a very family-centered culture. They love Christmas, and any other reason they can have for the family to get together. In the 1970s and 1980s Chile was ruled by a harsh dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and many of the people still remember when they lived under his military regime. They officially became a democracy in 1990 and are rapidly modernizing, with Santiago being the center of all the development. They currently have one temple in Santiago and another one under construction farther south.

I'm excited beyond words to come into this country and begin serving the Lord. As I learn more and more about this country I am filled with this desire to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they and their families can be blessed by living God's law and by fully receiving His blessings. I know that during these months, as I am preparing my heart and mind to teach the gospel, Heavenly Father is humbling them, softening their hearts and preparing them to receive the words that I will say, so that they can feel the Spirit and know for themselves that this gospel is true.

That is one of the best parts of this gospel, being about to know for ourselves the truth of all things. It's one thing to listen to the prophets teach about the Book of Mormon being the word of God, but when we experiment upon their words and exercise faith, and come to know for ourselves, it is such a thrill and a blessing. I am so grateful for that. I know that this gospel is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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