¡Hola familia!

I´m so glad to hear you all had a fabulous easter and an even more fabulous easter dinner! Thank you Uncle Kel for not mentioning anything about the prime rib, twice baked potatoes, and green bean casserole, if I knew about those I might have cried a little inside.. ;) Unfortunately easter is not a huge holiday here. The most festive thing that happened was when Hma. Dangelia, a sister in our ward (who actually went to high school in Orem so she knows how easter should be) sneakily passed me a chocolate bunny during sociedad de socorro aka relief society. My dinner consisted of arroz y pollo but that´s actually my favorite meal here so it was an awesome easter dinner none the less!

No I didn´t find any of my eye drops here so good thing you sent some! I hope they make it here too.

This week we had an activity for our principios del evangelio clase for the conversos recientes and it was a mini 28 de Sept. celebration which is the independence day of Chile. Haha I had to laugh because it was the day before easter and everyone wanted to celebrate a holiday 5 months adelante instead. Haha oh well. We had awesome food--pollo, completos, empanadas, papas! Everything Chilean and everything delicious!

So on friday we had the chance to go to Valpariso to do service because of the fire. I just love this city. Out of all the cities I´ve ever been to in my life, this by FAR is my favorite! Next family vacation needs to be here. When we arrived it was still dark out and all the lights on the cerros were beautiful! It was as if someone had draped a blanket of twinkling stars across the hills. I burned that image of beauty into my mind. A bunch of the other missionaries were there too so it was awesome to see some of my elders from the Atlanta 15! While everyone was coordinating everything we went to help organize all the food donations. I´ve never seen a pile of pasta so big in my life! Despite all the destruction I have full confidence that not one of those families will go hungry if the church has anything to do about it. The generosity of all the people there is just amazing! Then we went up to the hills to where the fire was. It was a bomb site. So much destruction. My heart just broke for all the families and people that lost everything. Seriously everything. So we got to work. I did everything from shoveling dirt and rubble and ash, to excavating the charbroiled remains of appliances and household objects and clearing away the rock of what was once walls. Some of the Elders thought they were so funny and were telling me to watch out for bodies because they ¨still hadn´t found some people¨ oh man. But then we found a bbq`d cat and I started to feel a little apprehensive haha. Oh but me da mucho peña clearing out the skeletons of burned bicycles and dvd players, chairs, and ovens and refrigerators and melted baby shoes. I wanted to cry for these people. I couldn´t help but think why would our loving heavenly father allow something so terrible and destructive happen? But as I looked around and looked past the destruction I saw the people, and the volunteers and the love and willingness and smiles on everyone´s faces. People in the hills would shout ¨CHEE CHEE LE LE¨and then everyone would shout back ¨¡¡VIVA CHILE!!¨ There was so much unity and love and generosity and strength that filled those smoky hills. Everyone came together to help, doing everything they can, offering what they could. I came to the conclusion that God lets such terrible things happen because He knows even BETTER things come of them. Things like love and unity and empathy that have value in the eternities, not just here on earth. We can only truly learn and develop gratitude, compassion, and charity in the face of adversity. Opposition in all things. The Lord really is preparing His people, He is strengthening them, He is developing in them stronger Christlike qualities. He let´s bad things happen because He trusts us enough that we can and will learn these lessons. Something as traumatic as this certainly has a way of refocusing your priorities on the things that are important--family, attitude, faith, Christ. Things that will always be there, through fires and earthquakes. The only thing left of the homes were their foundation--Helaman 5:12--when our foundation is in Christ, no importa what happens, we will not fall. At times like this I am especially grateful for the plan of salvation. It was especially special to do the service on Good Friday, looking forward to Easter, the day of resurrection, and the knowledge that with Christ nothing is lost. He rose again, Valpo is rising again, and we will rise again too. As we take advantage of the blessings of the atonement in our lives we not only will have immortality through resurrection, but eternal life, with our families. Truly even in times of great adversity, there is so much to be grateful for.
This easter season I´ve been thinking a lot about my Savior. He came to the world with his arms wide open saying ¨Come, follow me.¨ It brings tears to my eyes thinking of how much love and meaning He has behind those words. And then he died, His arms still open on the cross. And He rose again, scars and all with those loving arms still open. Because Christ rose from the dead we can raise from our fears, doubts, insecurities and mistakes time and time again. He gladly wears His scars so we´ll never have to wear ours. We have a glorious gift of repentance to heal us continually. This truly is a gospel of love and I am too blessed to be a representative of it right now in Chile. I love my Savior and I love you all!
Hope you have a great week!

Con todo el amor en mi corazon,
Hermana Evans