Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hey! I'm in California right now! Coming home has been wonderful! I'm going to write a bit about my last day in Osorno, traveling home, homecoming, and a final testimony.

It was pretty bizarre walking away from having a companion. There were 9 other missionaries ending their mission with me. It felt like being in the spirit world: you can't go back and no one else knows what it's like till they get there. We were kinda surprised with a 2 1/2 hour self-sufficiency class, which was nice, but it felt way out of context. I guess they're making sure that missionaries get right to work or studies when they get back.

I was given a packet with a final letter from Presidente Obeso and his wife, my travel itinerary, anti-parasite pills (still haven't started on those..... not too excited about those), some great talks by apostles, a list of all my previous companions, a new name tag that has the name of the mission engraved below my name and the mission logo engraved on the back side, and a sealed envelope for my Stake President.

We went to the Mission President's house, watched a slideshow with photos that we sent, ate a nice dinner, and had a short but very spiritual devotional (we watched Elder Holland's address to the MTC where he talks about Peter's conversion, "Do you love me?" etc.) PERFECT for a returned missionary. When Christ asked us to leave our nets, it was to be forever, when He asked us to leave our boats, it was to be forever.

At the end of the night, before getting to the hotel, we went to the chapel where there were a lot of members to greet us and say their last goodbyes. I'm so glad my last area was in Osorno, so I knew a lot of the people there :)

The hotel was nice, but I didn't sleep much at all. We got up at 3:30am, were served a nice breakfast, went to the chapel, and headed off in a bus to the Puerto Montt airport. In the airport, Elder Crotzer (an AP) pulled out his violin and we sang "Para Siempre Dios Este con Vos" ("God be with you till we meet again"). We got on the plane and departed for Santiago. From the window, we could see Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, and Llanquihue :)

May 21st is a national holiday in Chile, so even the temple was closed, but our Mission President talked with the Temple President and he agreed to come at 4:00 to open the doors for us. It was so awesome! It's a rather small temple too. I don't think it's bigger than our chapel in California. We did baptisms and confirmations (because we didn't have much time). There weren't any temple workers there, so we kinda had to do everything (recorder, witnessing, etc.). The temple president made it a point to show us the blue tiles in the stone floor and desk. The blue stone was a mix of lapis lazuli, pyrite, and something else.... I don't remember. Apparently it's something you find in Chile. After doing baptisms, we got to go into the Celestial Room :D It's so peaceful there. Then the temple president showed us a sealing room. He made it a point that we remember that our goal is to be part of an eternal family. We all touched the altar :) I will always remember that visit to the Santiago temple.

The flight was LONG! I did manage to sleep a few hours, but it sure is weird sleeping in a plane.

It was wonderful seeing my family and friends waiting at the airport. I was pretty beat up and sleepy. We ate lunch, talked a lot, and I got released that night by the Stake President. I got a nice surprise while waiting for my release interview: the Spanish-speaking institute meeting was getting ready to start. I definitely plan to attend in the future. I'll also attend the local Spanish sacrament meeting on Sundays, followed by the Young Single Adult Ward.

My wonderful family -- sisters Maia and Kelsi (in the chair), my dad, mom, and brother Max.

A day and a half later, I was speaking in sacrament meeting. It went fantastically! My close friend, Elder Tommy Webber, and I both got to speak, and Kayla Haws (a friend from BYU who served her mission in my hometown) sang a beautiful musical number with her former mission companion, Sister Gillins, at the piano. There were a lot of surprise visitors. I was so glad to see high school friends, friends from EFY, from college, and I loved seeing all the ward members I haven't seen in so long :D

It's nice being an RM.

Our Heavenly Father's purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. As we consecrate ourselves, that purpose becomes ours. We follow Christ and become more like our Heavenly Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's restored church today. It was restored by a divinely appointed prophet, Joseph Smith, who was foreordained since before the foundation of the world. The Book of Mormon is true, and one can know by reading it, pondering it's teachings, applying them, and praying to ask God if they are true. I will not be a retired missionary. I am a full-time member missionary who is preparing to be a worthy husband and father of an eternal family. I now go to institute, read the scriptures every day, pray frequently, go to church, and I will not let myself leave this rock because it's upon the rock of Christ that we must build our foundation.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope the spirit has strengthened you as you've read my testimony.

Love y'all,
-Connor Christopherson

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Connor will be home in a few days -- May 22!

Subway just opened like 2 weeks ago right here in Osorno :D Everything was the same as in the states! It even smelled the same :D This photo was taken last week. This week, my companion and I went again. We noticed that almost all of the missionaries that ate at subway were gringos. I guess Subway´s not that great to a latino.

​That speck on the bottom left corner is Volcán Osorno to put it in scale. The people here say that it´ll keep errupting for several months. The photo doesn't do the sight justice. It was a lot prettier in person and the plume of smoke had sharper contrast and shadows.

May 11, 2015

So, I don´t have a ton of time, because I wrote a long email to President Obeso. Lots of questions about exact obedience (not really doubts, but questions. One of the Liahonas this year explains the difference). Actually. I received a very interesting email today from Elder Lawton´s mom. It´s kinda surprising to see that they´ve been reading my blog and continue reading it xD. She noticed that I have lots of questions about exact obedience and sent me a talk about perfectionism. I haven´t had the chance to read it yet, but I feel really loved just by seeing that someone wanted to help. I´ll read it tommorow in my personal study.

Our Mother's Day Skype was great. I was pretty tired during the call. It was that way with the last Skype call too. I think my brain clogs up trying to decide what to say. But I wasn´t emotional or anything, because I know I´ll see y´all in a week and a half, but it was nice to see everyone :D I´m glad the image and sound quality was good. Elder García got a very grainy video quality from his family, but he was really happy and encouraged by having spoken with his family.

A lot of the people we teach are going to move to other wards or have already moved to other wards. We need to find people to teach. We have several future investigators. There´s always a solid pool of futures, then one by one they fall and become unreceptive. Missionary work is like sifting through sand, searching for treasure. A whole lot of sand has to fall through to get to the good stuff.

Read from the Book of Mormon every day. It´s worth it :D

Love y´all :D

-Elder Christopherson

Monday, April 27, 2015

So, last Wednesday, I was walking with my companion, y´know, doing missionary stuff, and I noticed (over the top of some buildings) the top of a cloud that was very textured and pretty. We stood on a bench to get a better look. It was then that I realized that this was no ordinary cloud. VOLCANO!!!!

Connor is 50 miles north of the volcano. (This is online photo.)

Photo we found online - this is Connor's last area, Puerto Varas, buried in ash.

I we started asking people on the street, who told us that it was Volcán Calbuco (which I´ve lived close to in Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt) We went to a good look out point, where we could see the whole thing. WOW! It was gorgeous! Absolutely enourmous! I was amazed how tall it was knowing how far we are from it (50 miles north). Lots and lots of ashes blowing toward Argentina. We started a conversation with a man taking photos, and we noted that he was from Argentina, so he was a little bitter that the ashes were going that way..We talked to him a bit about the gospel, he said he´s scientific and that his wife´s a pentecostal (talk about polar opposites)

Anyway, I kinda got distracted from the main topic. The volcano! Everyone was gathering water because the city was going to shut the water down and verify if it was contaminated, but in the end, we havn´t been touched by ashes. It's all going east. However, all the missionaries in Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas (my last area) were evacuated. I haven´t a clue where they are, but they´re not in Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas. I imagine google has better photos than anything I have. The part with lava and fire happened at about 2am, so we didn´t see any of that (but members showed us photos).

The same volcano when Connor hiked there in February (before it erupted).

Hey everyone, if you´re reading this, you´re invited to my homecoming sacrament meeting which is Sunday, May 24 at 11:00. It will also be the homecoming of Elder Tommy Webber :)

I´m constantly frustrated when I feel like I try to get everything done right, and I fail fantastically as I try to make it all work, but I realized more this week how we really can´t do this alone. The work works, even when missionaries fail, because of Jesus Christ. He heals us both spiritually and phisically, and we can follow Him by keeping his commandments. He provides what we need.

Just this Saturday, we had a appointment with a less active family. I had taught them one other time like 3 months ago, and the lesson wasn´t fantastic, so I wasn´t sure that this visit was going to have much results. We got there and we tried showing a video on their TV, but it didn't work, so we tried the DVD player with another video, but that didn´t work either. They tried youTube, but that also didn´t work. Clearly, the Lord did NOT want us to show a video. We read about the iron rod and the tree of life. We involved their kids and it ended up being a really spiritual lesson. We invited them to pray together, and the wife was especially committed to do it. When we left, she asked us when the church meetings were. We told her, but I didn't believe that she would actually come, and that she was just asking so she felt like she was more receptive (which a lot of people do, because they love having the missionaries over, but don´t want to commit, but they want to look like they´re going to commit so that the missionaries keep coming). Imagine, then, my suprize and joy when I saw the mom and her 2 kids come to sacrament meeting and they stayed all 3 hours :D As I said at the begining of this enourmous paragraph, the Lord provides :) I´m really excited about them. We´re going to pass by in a few days.

Love y´all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

 April 20, 2015

Phew... I feel really sleepy right now. We´ve been getting up earlier some days to go running and I´ve gotten to bed late a few times due to district leader duties (lots and lots of time calling the district and the zone leaders).

I have lots of photos to share, and I´m actually in the good cyber today, but I forgot my camera in the house :p I´d normally go back, but when your with a companion, every little trip like that takes time from your companion as well and I don´t want to do that.

I bought a new watch today. This is my third watch. I got a nice one for my 19th birthday, and that broke (I gave it to a guy who repairs watches, but he said there´s a piece that snapped and it´s not fixable without a replacement for that exact part). Then I bought one a few months ago. That broke too. This one´s a lot lighter, so I think it wouldn´t take lots of damage in a fall.

There´s an old evangelico guy (like, evangelical) in a wheelchair, named Carlos, that wanted me to say "hi" to you from him.

A nice family we teach about once a week gave us cestañas, which I think in English are "chestnuts." They grow on trees in big spikey pods that have 2-5 chestnuts in each pod. They take the nuts out of the pod, boil them, and then you cut them with a knife to eat the part inside. It´s really yummy and it´s the type of food that´d be nice to eat while watching a movie, but they´re also very tedious to prepare and eat.

Juan Carlos didn´t really understand the plan we gave him, so we retaught it and now he gets it and is more committed. He stayed true to the plan for two and a half days, but then he fell again.

This morning I got really frustrated, because I feel like I´m recieving very high expectations from all sides, and I sometimes feel that it´s impossible to do what I´m asked to do. President Packer once said that something similar happened to him when he was called as an apostle. He learned that he wasn´t just going to be brought to the edge of his abilities, but he would need to step out of the light of his own knowledge and into the unknown. By taking the step of faith, the unknown became illuminated, and he was changed by the experience. The mission has tested me physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and maby a few other -ally words as well.

But God is perfectly loving, and perfectly merciful. He knows what he´s doing when He puts us in trials and He knows what´s going to happen from the beginning. We´re left between trusting Him or trusting nothing. Trusting nothing can´t get anyone anywhere, so I choose to trust Him. Sometimes it´s hard to hear His voice, or we feel like He gives just a little less than what we expect to meet the increasing darkness, but He knows perfectly what we need to make it through. The iron rod is the only solid thing in our sight. The rest is darkness. The iron rod does not fail. The choice is clear, and we can step forward in faith.

I just went overtime, and I didn´t have time tor revise what I wrote, but I love you all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Elder Alder's awesome mom sent fun PJs.

April 13, 2015

Aw. My watch broke last week and I was going to buy one downtown today, but I forgot. I guess I´ll go another week using my phone.

I have lots of photos that I want to send, but I´m once again in the cyber that I think has a lot of viruses in it, so I don´t want to connect my camera.

This week was good. We have a lot of people in our teaching pool, but absolutely none of them came to church last Sunday. We´ve got to get that moving. I want to baptize someone before going back to California.

My district is full of really high quality missionaries. It´s actually kinda intimidating. I get in these mindsets where I try to compare myself and that´s never a good thing to do. That´s one of the challenges of this transfer, learning not to compare myself against very good, high caliber missionaries.

I told President Obeso last week in my letter that I feel like I don´t accomplish all the things I´m supposed to, even though I feel like I´m trying my best. It´s frustrating, because Nephi says we can always do it, but it stresses me out, so what I did was I wrote a list of all the things I could think of that I do that I would consider chueco (it means crooked or skewed, missionaries use it to mean disobedient). It actually helped a lot to see it all listed out. It made me feel more in control. I put stars next to some of them to polish up this week, and I hope to dominate everything in the list before my last week. I´ve only been half successful as I´ve worked on my starred items, but I guess I need better plans. I want to be exactly obedient.

The other missionaries in the house stole my agenda and made it a truncky agenda. They taped lots of pictures of young couples from the Liahona. They filled it with scriptures about marriage and they numbered the days to make a regressive countdown. I´m still debating if I should take the pictures off or not.

I love you all so much. I´m doing all I can to make these last 5.5 weeks count.

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 6, 2015
Maia, I´m proud of you for keeping your goal to go to all the devotionals. I think I missed one or two, and there were several that I saw on the interenet as I was doing laundry or finishing an art project.

Mom, you´ll be really blessed for the work your doing for the ward. I was reading in Handbook 2 about fundraisers, wow, there are a lot of rules (which makes sense). It´s nice that the ward found something that works well. The wards here don´t really have the streangth to do things like that, and a lot of money is spent to get people to the temple (it´s about 12 hours from here). I´m so grateful that I could grow up in such a strong ward with many faithful examples and leaders.

We got the transfer information and almost my whole district stays, including me. Looks like I´m going to end the mission in Rahue Alto :D I´m happy about that. I actually asked Presidente Obeso for that, because I felt that I know the area really well and feel like my companion and I can get a lot done together this transfer cycle.

The man we've been teaching has a new plan to quit smoking. It was a cool idea that I think was inspired, because it makes so much sense and I felt so good when my companion and I shared it with him. Basically, he´s going to make a daily schedule that says the exact times in each day that he´s allowed to smoke. If he feels the urge to smoke, he can look at his schedule and think "It´s 4:30 and I just got off of work, and I want to smoke now, but my schedule says I can´t untill 5:30. I can wait an hour more for that." The idea is that he sets his own schedule instead of his circumstances, and he develops self mastery. Little by little, he has to drop the number of cigarettes that he programs into each day. By making a plan every day, he´ll meet his daily goals, and by keeping his daily goals, he´ll reach his vision of never smoking ever again.
That´s one of the most fundamental lessions I´ve learned in the mission, the importance of having a vision backed by goals which are backed by plans. They each depend on each other to be successful. When we set goals and plans, we turn a dream or vision into realitiy. Vision, goal, and plan setting is a method of choosing that which is best over that which is good with anticipation, and then sticking to the decision  It´s not as hard as it sounds. The Lord promises that this will never be so dificult that we can´t do it, just so long as we´re organized about it.(See Mosiah 4:27 which is basically my new favorite scripture). I´m not perfect in this, but I know that with practice, it´ll bring me to be my best self instead of somewhere in the middle. 

Love y´all :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson
Connor has become a firewood expert in Chile.
Connor's companions
March 30, 2015
Today´s one of those days when there are LOTS of things to say.

I just got awesome news! A friend from BYU who was not a member of the church got baptized and is going to serve a mission! Wow, stuff changes when one´s gone for 2 years.

Mom, thanks for registering for my classes. The schedule looks great. Dad, that was a nice photo of Justin Too. I didn´t really recognize the second place guy.

I can´t send you photos today, because the ciber where we normally go doesn´t have internet, so we´re in a sketchy ciber. I think I´ll get a cold with all the viruses in here.

Elder Garcia´s been having a tough time this week (his close cousin recently died in a car crash), but I think the Lord wanted to help my companion out and we found a new solid investigator! We were just talking to a guy in the street and asked where he lived. He said, "well, I just show you" and he led us to his house. He´s nice, is separated from his wife, and has 2 kids that live with him part time. We had a second appointment and he actually read the pamphlet :D :D :D He prayed at the end of our second lesson, never having prayed before in his life! He´s so receptive and he´s doesn´t appear to have anything to stop him from getting baptized. No substance addictions. He´s not co-living with anyone, and he´s got the weekends off work. It´s perfect!

Oscar got baptized :D He´s not my investigator, but I helped in teaching him, I did his interview, he asked me to baptize him, and I also did the confirmation. I feel awkward seeing my name so many times on his baptism record. He´s really sharp. He shows up to like EVERY meeting or activity, and he´s read the entire quad. The members are accepting him well into the ward.

So, the mission is focusing a lot of energy on #GraciasaqueÉlvive (in English #BecauseHelives). We have been showing the video to lots of people, members and nonmembers, we had a special 2 zone activity in the plaza of Osorno, where we sang in a choir, contacted people, had 3 enourmous signs that said #GraciasaqueÉlvive, and some laptops to show the video to people. Social media is the new way to do missionary work (even if the missionaries here don´t get to use it) because the MEMBERS make it all work :D We already had a great success story. One recently reactivated member shared the video on facebook, and found out that her cousin is a member of the church! Isn´t that cool?!? Everyone who reads this email should visit the website  But really, do it :D And then share it with EVERYONE :D If the resurrection of Christ has any meaning to you, you´ll know the great urgency in sharing it. Because He lives, I can be truly and eternally happy and everyone else can be too as they choose to live the fulness of His Gospel. This is a big deal!

I love you ALL :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: Are you pumped for General Conference? I am :D

PPS: Ha ha, just kidding, Dad. Congrats on getting 2nd in yet another double century :D

Connor - seated front left side
March 23, 2015
A friend asked what the best moment in the mission has been. This is how I responded: The very best moments are the ones where everything works out :) God´s plan is like an enourmous juggling act where He makes it look like everything´s going to fall just to see if we´ll stay faithful. It´s so relieving when stuff works, we feel the spirit, and we are forever streangthened. There are so many moments like that in the mission :) Like talking to that person on the street who I´d never think would be receptive and it starts this whole conversation where they share about their life and want to learn more about Christ.
It´s been a very good week. I have a real companion now! I´m with Elder Garcia from Bucaramanga, Colombia. We´ve gotten along very well :D He´s a little quieter, but he´s got a solid testimony and he´s hard working. He didn´t speak much English before the mission, but he´s very dilligent in practicing with me. He says all his companionship prayers and district prayers in English. We´ve been finding lots of new/future investigators. Several of them still aren´t new investigators till we´ve actually had a lession with them, but we´ve got appointments and we´re excited!

We found a fun less active family this week. The mom actually reminded me of my own mom, because they´re both constantly doing stuff and working hard. They actually like to read books (very uncommon in Chile) which makes them notably more intelligent in their conversations.They´re a really nice family, but they feel they don´t really need to go to church to be with God. We are focusing in helping them discover that they have unanswered questions that are resolved in the Book of Mormon. I´m excited to see how it goes.
Love y´all! Oh! Almost forgot. I´m baptizing Oscar this Saturday :D (not my investigator, but I´m still stoked :)
-Elder Connor Christopherson

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 16, 2015

Moms email was funny. I feel like you were just going through a really long week and you passed through a happy moment with that email xD She just sent Lord of the Rings quotes with a paragraph blurb about her week.

District Meeting :)
I´ve got a great district right now. They´re from, (left to right) Canada (for 5 years, but she´s originally the Dominican Rep), Calif, Nicaragua, Chile, Colombia, Utah, Utah, Calif.

I´ve got less time, sorry, but long story short, Elder Marshall is in Utah right now due to his stress fractures. I´ve been in a trio with the elders who live with me but who are in the other ward. It´s been really weird, because I´ve been floating between them, divisions with the members, and divisions with the elders from another ward in my district. It was especially weird going to chuch accompanied by only members. Even more weird is that one of the sisters got sick and they had 2 very important appointments, so we taught in their sector, and brought them medicine. The most weird is that I got stuck with a member withought knowing that he had an appointment with the sister misionaries in his house. I couldn´t leave because he was my "companion", so I was in a lesson with the sister missionaries, which isn´t supposed to happen. President said he still doesn´t know who my new companion is going to be. He said he´ll call me, but that was a week ago that he said that.

My sector´s been slightly abandoned as I´ve been floating between 3 sectors. I´m going to try to set good appointments in my sector so we can spend more time there as a trio.

I love the work! I used one of the facsimiles in the book of Abraham to teach an investigator, which I never thought I´d do. He´s frustrated that his mom isn´t receptive to the gospel, so I showed him that Abraham´s parents weren´t receptive either and even tried to have him sacrificed to false idols.

Love y´all :D
Elder Christopherson
March 9, 2015
Yikes, so today is one of those days where I´m really short on time.
So, this week´s been very different. We got the MRI results and found that my companion has 2 stress fractures in his right foot. The traumatoligist said he can´t put any weight on his foot and that it´ll take a very long time to heal. We went looking for crutches, but in the two medical supply stores that we tried, they didn´t have crutches of his size (Elder Marshall is 2 inches taller than me). Well, walking around looking for crutches was really bad for Elder Marshall´s foot. Before we got the results of the MRI, we walked the least amount possible (just to go to lunch or a really important appointment), but now we know he can´t walk more than 50 meters at a time. We brought our matressess downstairs and have been in the house this week.

​Imagine this, but with the curtain open (we shut it for the photo),
this was my life for a week and a half.
It´s been a blur of organizing stuff, trying to study and be productive (although I got really sleepy a lot of the time, although I´m learning a little more how to focus better (with food)), learning the best way to cut a pineapple (we got juice everywhere), and talking about random stuff. We played chess a few times and the elders from the mission office (including my old companion, Elder Astete) came during their P-day (Saturday) to play a Chilean version of Risk. After, President Obeso and his wife dropped by to talk with us and they bought us food, which was very nice :). Depending on what Salt Lake tells us, Elder Marshall will either be sent home to recover, or he´ll be with another elder who can´t walk for a few weeks and I´ll work with the other elder´s companion.
Yesterday was President Obeso´s birthday and all the missionaries in the nearby zones went to the mission house to celebrate a little. We didn´t plan on going because of my companion´s foot, but President actually came by our house to try to pick us up. Unfortunately, we weren´t there! We were at the bishop´s house, taking our time because we didn´t have anywhere else to go. President Obeso tried calling us, but our phone was dead. Kinda sad, because they ended up watching Meet the Mormons in the mission house, which I´ve wanted to see for a long time :P
Anyway, the church is true, the gospel blesses lives, and I´ve been staring at the Book of Mormon enough this week to know that it´s true and brings people to Christ.
Love y´all!
-Elder Christopherson