Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hey all!

I´m a little short on time because I had technical difficulties with the internet.

I´m almost done with my first transfer (a transfer is a period 6 weeks, and at the end of these 6 weeks, some missionaries receive changed assignments) Usually, training takes 2 transfers with the same trainer in the same sector, but my companion is going to be a zone leader near Villarica (up north). I´m still in Puerto Montt, but I´m getting a new companion! I don´t know much about him except that he is a gringo and he studied at BYU Idaho for a year. It´ll be interesting because I´ll need to teach him all about the sector when I´m the one being trained. It´ll be a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow quickly.

I´ll answer your questions: The weather is cold and usually cloudy, but these past days have had a little more sun. Today is particularly windy. We visited Volcano Osorno today as a zone. We took a bus. It was really windy. We didn’t hike at all because it was snowing so hard. This wasn’t like the pleasant snow of BYU, this was a blizzard, and the wind was blowing harder than I’ve ever felt it! I have a picture, but I can´t send that till next week.

As for my clothes, I wear thermal underwear, a long-sleeved undershirt, a layer of normal missionary clothes, occasionally a wool sweater if it’s really cold, and the coat that the mission president gave us. I also wear the scarf Sister Webber sent me with (thanks for that!). I´ve lost the gloves many, many times. Right now, I think they´re in the house of an investigator named Ivan.

All the housing in the mission is provided with necessary equipment like carbon monoxide detectors or vacuum cleaners. There are many many many many many dogs in the streets and behind fences. None of them have bitten except for a friendly dog that always follows us, but those bites are gentle. They just all bark.... all the time..... barking..... bark bark bark. I never want to own a dog.

Here´s an excerpt from my letter to President Rappleye:
"I felt fantastic about the lessons this week. I'm becoming a more prominent contributor in the lessons, and I am honing my missionary skills. We had a lesson with a very inactive member. He is an alcoholic. My companion me before the lesson that he didn't know how bad the situation was and how much he drinks, so he said he'd probe the situation and we'd base our lesson off that. I didn't understand much about what he was saying, but I heard the word "alcohol" a lot and how it made him feel bad. He also mentioned faith. To me, this was a golden opportunity to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had never taught a lesson like this before. I was using scriptures, asking questions that opened him up, and there were some great pauses. I kept expected my companion to take over, but he didn't; he let me run with it. Finally, I asked that he would finish drinking alcohol and never drink it again. I had no idea what he said after that, and my companion took over. It turns out that he was very confused with my question because he told us (without me understanding) that he hasn't had alcohol in over 3 months. Well . . . that's a little awkward, but the lesson was fantastic regardless."
I love you all!
-Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: I received the package. I loved the photos. I thought it was ironic that I already buy pretty much all the food you sent already here in Chile. Now I have lots of peanut butter J

Monday, August 26, 2013

Note from Mom: The mail strike continues in Chile, so please send emails instead of postal letters. Connor has limited computer time, but will print our emails and read them later. Unfortunately, he isn't allowed to respond individually by email, but when the strike is over, he can respond by postal mail, so include your mailing address in your email.  Connor's email address: 
¡Hola familia!

It’s raining pretty hard! :D

I got so many emails today! I haven´t read them, but I will today.

First, I have some items of business, to answer your questions:

1. It is easy to print emails. It takes a tiny part of my emailing time to print each email and costs a little less than a quarter per page. To me, that is worthwhile. I´ll probably just read the short emails or emails with photos (without printing) and print the long emails for later.

2. No, I have not received the package yet. All this month people have told me, "Your letters and your package will probably come next week." But they haven’t.... I know that´s not your fault.

3. Yes, the photos of Tommy did turn out. Thanks :D

4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX!!! You´re going to be a teacher! In Spanish, the word for teacher is maestro, which means "master." You´re going to be a master, Max :D

I don´t have much more time, so I´ll just say a little about the food in Chile :) Most meals from members, we have chicken, rice, and potatoes. It´s also common to have cream with fruit for dessert. We also have some sort of salad where the primary ingredient is not lettuce, but sliced tomatoes. In Chile, lunch is the big meal of the day, and they don´t really have dinner. Instead they have "once" (pronounced ON-seh). I´m not really sure why it´s called "once," which means eleven... because it´s usually in the evening. Basically, they get bread (which is deliciously fattening in Chile) and they have lots of delicious jams and jellies, creams, and butters to put on the bread. There’s also a drink that´s very popular called mate (MAH-teh) which is where they fill a special mug with herbs and grasses and they pour very hot water in it. Missionaries aren´t allowed to drink it because everyone shares from the same mug and it´s not sanitary (it also takes a very long time to drink), but members drink it a lot.  Peanut butter is rather expensive in Chile, but I usually buy it for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I´ve also come to love Oreos dipped in peanut butter, but that´s very fattening, so I can only do that every once in a while.

Love you all!

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Note from Mom: There’s a mail strike in Chile, so for now, please email Connor instead of mailing postal letters. He has very limited time on a computer, but can print our emails and read them later. His email address is on the right side of this blog. Thank you!

¡Hola, todos!

First, I haven´t gotten letters yet, but I have gotten your emails from last week. I just printed all of them, but I haven´t gotten to read them yet, so I may not answer questions on the emails ´till next week, although I did read the bit about a mail strike in Chile. Good to know :)

Just like every week, there were ups and downs.

We had zone conference this week. There were four zones at this conference, and about 80-90 missionaries. Some missionaries had to travel a few hours to get here, but the conference was within walking distance of our house. There was a companionship that stayed the night in our house. One of those companions was from Idaho, who was also trained by my companion. Each of them joined a companionship when we went proselyting. We had a lot of unity. We taught 3 of the best lessons that I´ve ever been a part of. Each was special for its own reasons.

One was a lesson to a young woman that we had just met by knocking on her door. She felt such a powerful spirit during the lesson. When we were going to start with a prayer, my companion asked if there was anything specific that she wanted him to pray about. We could tell that that question really impacted her, because she started crying. She asked that we pray that her family can be protected. It´s amazing how such a simple question can help people open up to the spirit when the question is inspired and motivated by love and the sprit
The second lesson was with a recent convert (the one that was baptized on my first week here). Usually, we just teach her and her 12 year old son who was also baptized. This lesson was different. Her older son and his girlfriend started listening in, and then they started asking questions. Before long, the woman's husband also entered the room and started listening. What really made it special is that half the time, the recent convert was the one teaching. To me, it´s evidence of her true conversion that she is now working to teach her family with us about the gospel and the church.

The third lesson was with slowly progressing investigators. The husband is a member, but hasn´t been to church since he was 14, so he doesn´t remember much. We started talking about baptism and how Christ was baptized. What made it cool was that their 11 year old son got really excited and wants his dad to baptize him.

I had a moment this week when I felt really worthless, like I didn´t know how to do anything. I spent about a half hour in my room praying for comfort. The answer came quickly. I was calmed immensely by one sentence brought to my mind: "Be still, and know that I am God". He knows what I can handle. He knows me and he knows who I am. I also read the talk by Elder Holland in the April General Conference. I was particularly impacted when he talked about how, besides Jesus Christ, the only people that God has been able to work with are imperfect. "This must be terribly frustrating to him, but he deals with it." Why? Because He is our father. He loves us and everything he does is for us.

I´m so grateful to be a missionary. I love all of you very much. I think about my friends and family so much. I think about many more people from home than you might realize—people from the ward, from work, from high school and BYU. I miss you all, and I hope that all is going well for you.

Elder Connor Christopherson

Friday, August 9, 2013


Puerto Montt, Chile

Ok, first, to answer my mom´s question. President Rappleye provided all the new missionaries with rain coats and rain pants, so I´ve been using that so I can preserve the nice one you bought me for when this coat breaks (it´s starting to break a little already), so I haven´t used the coat you bought me yet. The waterproof backpack works great! Everyone comments about how gigantic it is. Oh, and the umbrella you bought me broke. :D It wasn´t very strong. I don´t recommend it for other missionaries. My companion has a really nice umbrella that can withstand more that he bought in Puerto Montt. I´ll probably buy one like it.

I attached 2 pictures, both of which were taken on my first week. One is of the baptism of Inez and Juan, the other is a picture of Puerto Montt from the window. 

The people here are so generous. We were knocking on the door of an inactive member at about 8:00pm. We were not expected, but he and his wife immediately invited us in their house and laid out a table and prepared a plethora of food just for us. I was stunned by how they dropped whatever they were doing before to prepare us the meal when we didn´t ask for anything. It was so nice of them. All we really did was share a scripture and bear testimony, but they came to church the next day and participated a lot in classes.

If there´s one thing I´ve learned on my mission, it´s that the Lord always gives more to you than you can give to him. You can give yourself entirely to the Lord, give him everything you have, and he blesses you in more ways than you could have ever expected. I´m always provided with what I need. I can´t do much. I don´t have much experience as a missionary and I still can´t understand what anyone says, but I keep working my hardest to learn and grow, so I can be a blessing to others.

I love you so much! I miss all my friends and family. I still haven´t received any letters in Chile. I know you´re sending letters, but I just haven´t received any. It will probably be better if you email me instead of writing me, and I can print the emails (and if you´re not a member of my immediate family please include your mailing address so I can reply).

I love you!
Elder Connor Christopherson

Saturday, August 3, 2013

With my first companion in Chile, pointing to Puerto Montt.

With Mission President and Sister Rappleye upon arrival in Chile.

Here is a letter Connor wrote upon arrival (scanned and emailed). Full of excitement! 

¡Hola, mi familia!

There are always a million things I want you to see and know and understand about my experiences. I have written a letter to you that I will send in a few minutes, I hope that it arrives quickly.

Sorry I don´t have my camera with me right now. I´ll try to remember to send photos next week, although I haven´t known what to take pictures of. We can´t take cameras with us while proselyting so I don´t have many photos.

Ok, experiences.... I can´t emphasize enough how wonderful the ward members are. We attended a mutual (weekly time where youth of the ward do stuff together) about missionary work. The teachers and priests have been teaching with us and they were all sharing their experiences and the leaders bore testimonies. The bishop showed us videos from online (clips from the "work of salvation" broadcast). It´s so weird how everything is translated from English, all the videos, all the talks from General Conference. A part of me is always expecting people to start speaking English and say "Ok, everyone, that was fun speaking another language, but now we´ll talk normally." I know that´s a very silly way to be thinking, but it´s definitely bizarre living in a country where everyone speaks another language and few people speak fluent English.

It´s very frustrating teaching people without understanding what they´re saying. I want to really get to know people, and I know that will take time for me to be able to do that. I know that this is all part of the Lord´s plan, and He knows what´s in store. All I can do is put my trust in Him that we´re doing the right thing.
We were walking to the house of a potential investigator at about 7pm and we saw a man in the street pulling a big cart with lots of wood on it. Not logs of wood, but wood that was once part of other stuff and this man found in the streets. The wood was for leña, or firewood (in Chile, everyone heats their homes with little stoves). I was really shocked to see how hard he was struggling, but it was my awesome companion who saw the opportunity to serve and started helping him. I was surprised how heavy it was, and we moved it a little more than half a mile in the middle of a busy street. It was very bizarre, but I´m glad we did it. He doesn´t live in our sector so we can´t teach him, but it was really nice to serve. Two days later, we saw him in the street again. My companion and I both gave each other looks saying "Again?" We did end up helping him again, pulling the same cart with different stuff the same distance.

I love you all very much!

Elder Connor Christopherson