Sunday, September 29, 2013

 I took this photo to compete with Tommy´s photo. :D
There are wood burning stoves, like the one behind me, in all the houses. Ours usually doesn´t have fire in it because it´s difficult to start because our wood is pretty wet. It´s easier to maintain once we start, but we don´t really spend enough time in the house to where it´s worth lighting.
That´s my companion and I eating at the home of a family on the 18th holiday.
I have no idea where the other elder got that apron! We´re eating empanadas.

These are alfajores. There are a lot of these this time of the year in Chile, but apparently you can´t find them at other times of the year. The cream in the middle is very sweet and yummy.


 Here´s our chapel :) It also doubles as a cultural hall. The members set up the chairs every Sunday. It´s one of the nicer chapels in the mission. My companion and I helped set up the balloons :D
This was at the member´s house, but we played the same game on a grander scale at the church party as well. The scoring system is a little complicated, and I don´t really understand it, but basically you throw objects as close to the string as possible. At the members house we threw 100peso coins and at the church (where the bin was about 3 times as far) we threw short thick rods of metal.
Here are church members who helped cook at the ward party on the 19th. The attendance was really good and we played lots of games. The two sisters in the front are the sister missionaries for our ward. One is from Argentina and the one in the hat is from Panama.
Hi everyone!

Ok.... I don´t have much time to talk because I was uploading photos.

As for the work, I´m growing and improving every day. Fiestas Patrias was really really good for me (national holiday, where everyone takes 3 days off). It helped me relax and now I feel a lot more positive. I feel like I´m on a spiritual high, and I´m learning how important it is to listen and act. When we act on what we learn, the Lord blesses us with more. I learned that writing down new spiritual insights is super important because it shows to the Lord that what you learned is important and precious to you. He gives you as much as you can take, and I feel so content and happy to be a missionary.

We met lots of people this week who rejected us in some way or another. I don´t have time to tell the stories, but I do want to tell you what I learned. I learned that it´s never impossible to come unto Christ. It´s something He wants us to do; it´s something we should do; it´s something we can do. He gives us commandments because we are happier when we follow those commandments. So many people try to do their own thing, thinking that they know how to be happy without Christ, or by proclaiming they believe in Christ but won’t act on the teachings of Christ. They have told me that they´ll wait for another time to repent, saying that they knew they needed to. There is no point in procrastinating repentance, because wickedness never was happiness. People think "I´ll cram in a little more pleasure before I have to change." You will NEVER change with an attitude like that. God gives us as we desire, and if we don´t want to turn towards Christ until the last minute, that shows Him that we don´t actually want Him in our lives. 

I love you all :D

Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, September 22, 2013

 Independence Day in Chile

I love reading about everyone´s lives! Dad! I forgot to mention you in my list of shout outs last week. I love how well you describe what´s going on. I can get a good idea of all the important changes from your emails. I also think it´s nuts how much you ride your bike :P The photo of High Adventure was particularly fun to see. That´s too bad about Max´s first week of high school. Keep up the good work, Max! Do what will make you happier in the long run! And I hope Maia´s school schedule works out better. Maybe God has a special purpose. He usually does.

I also like reading about my friends on missions. I love hearing about the success! Tommy´s mission in Washington seems to be doing particularly well.
These weeks in Chile, I´ve been learning about patience and animo (I´m not sure what the direct translation of "animo" is... It´s kinda a cross between energy and excitement). The work is slow right now. These weeks we´ve been doing a lot of knocking doors and contacting people, but we don´t have any investigators that are progressing. People that we used to teach either moved away or don´t answer the door anymore. We´ve been getting false phone numbers and people aren´t answering when we have their real numbers.
We´re not perfect missionaries. We´re far from it. But there´s always more to improve, and that´s what we´re patiently trying to do. I said I learned about animo this week, and that´s important because even if times are tough, we need to be joyful. It´s normal to be sad, but there´s no point in moping. It´s like the great saying that I always liked framed in the Sheppard´s house: ¨Keep calm and carry on."
The Lord is never in our debt. It´s always the other way around. When we are obedient, we receive blessings immediately. When we prepare to receive the spirit, when we listen for it, when we act on it, we will always be doing the Lord´s work, every if we can´t see the fruits of that work.
It´s like Abinadi who preached to the wicket priests of King Noah. He was burned to death without seeing a single person repent and come unto Christ, but little did he know that he touched the heart of one named Alma. Alma went on to baptize thousands of people, and his son as well. The work was moved forward and miracles happened. I can´t say that I always follow the promptings of the Spirit. I´m not perfect. That´s why we´re here. That´s part of the plan. We knew it would be this way before we even arrived. I know I´m doing the right thing by serving a mission. I know that this is the Lord´s work and we are representatives of Him. I´m grateful to be here I´m excited to continue growing. I pray to be more receptive to the spirit. 

I got a bit rambly in this email, but I hope what I said helps someone somewhere :) Life´s awesome!

-Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: I got a boatload of DearElders today. (mail strike is over)

PPS: This next week is 18 de Septiembre! It´s the independence day of Chile and it´s a really really big deal here. There are lots of Chilean flags everywhere we go. We won´t be able to knock doors for a few days because it get´s a little crazy, but there will be a celebration in the chapel and we´ll have fun with the members there :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Winter in southern Chile -- in August!
Connor on a volcano, trying to stand upright in the wind.

¡Hola, todos!

Where to start.... Mom, I don´t know what to ask for Christmas that I can´t buy here.

I love love love reading about what´s happening with all of you. I feel like all is well and everyone is growing. I´m going to do a few shout-outs because I haven´t really answered people´s questions or comments directly (it´s very difficult to find time to write letters... we can only do it on P-Day and we´re usually busy with other stuff on P-Day).

Congratulations, Annie Loy, Kenzie Smith, and Jacob Clarke on your mission calls! I hope I get to see some of your homecomings. Oh! And tell the Ballards I said "hi!"...

Grandma, I loved reading about your baptism in Switzerland. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to find streets when they´re not like a grid. We have an enormous map in our house with labels and whatnot. Someone came to deliver us gas (for cooking and showers), and my companion said we probably look like FBI agents in our white shirts and ties with our big map. Our house doesn´t have a couch or TV or a dining/coffee table like what you might expect in a normal house. The most noticeable things in the first room is the stove, the map, and my desk, which is covered in books and binders.

Who else.... I don´t know how many of my BYU friends can read this as most of them are on missions, but I hope you know that I love your letters and I´m really excited to hear what´s going on in  your missions (Especially Sister Haws, because the Irvine mission is a bit special to me).
Max, I´m proud of you for how hard you´re working. I tried getting into cross-country my first year of high school as well. I didn´t get on the team, but I remember I was more fit that year than any other.

Speaking of fitness... I´ve been eating a lot in Chile. We´re given a lot of food from the members and we have plenty of money provided by the mission to buy food as well, so I think I´ve gained a bit of weight (I hear Tommy gained a few pounds too :) I´m trying to find some ideal food that´s healthy, delicious, filling, doesn´t require preparation, and will endure. I don´t know if a food like that exist, but I´m still looking ;)

Maia, your emails and mom´s emails are my favorites. I´m amazed how much you have grown. I´m sure your wisdom teeth story of warm sticky blood all over your pillow will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life (I´m joking, I only have nightmares about that once a week). Sorry about the whole driving test situation. You´ll get it soon. Congratulations on your Personal Progress. Huge accomplishment.

I´m really sorry if I missed anyone. Keep emailing me and I´ll be sure to comment soon :)

Ok.... I´ll be fast. These last 2 weeks have been really great. I already told you that it´s really stressful helping my companion get to know the sector, but it´s also been super rewarding. I´ve learned oodles from him (I´m pretty sure that´s the correct usage of the word "oodles"). He´s very very creative, and he´s very good at contacting at doors. He´s just so friendly and animated that people open up to him. I´m trying to learn to do the same. I guess I just get nervous when I´m worried I won´t understand the response. My companion is absolutely fantastic. He is very knowledgeable and he actually explains things to me. I learn a lot from him when I listen and I feel lots of energy to bring the work forward.

I love you all!

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Note from Mom:  We received these photos of Connor from a woman in Chile,
along with an awesome email that brought a huge smile to my face: 
"Today, the missionaries had lunch in my home. We are always happy to help the missionary work, and we love very much your son; he is a very good missionary. His Spanish has progressed very much, and we can talk with him without problems. We are a family that love a lot to the missionaries, and we are always caring for them; anything you need, we can help you. We send you much love." -- Sister Marcia
 Lunch at Sister Marcia's house.
Rain and wind in Puerto Montt!

Carrying firewood for Sister Marcia.
September 1, 2013
Wow! I have a lot to say! Hi, everyone!

Oh! First... answering questions of my mom.

On P-Days, we get up, prepare, and study at the same time as other days. Usually our Mondays go like this: We go to the central part of Puerto Montt to the Mall, doing all the emailing in a cyber, which I think is "internet cafĂ©" in English. After that we might buy things in the mall (like umbrellas or fast food). Today, we ran into Hermana Marcia and she told me she sent you the photos. (Her son was able to help type in English. He knows a little bit. Her husband is learning lots of English now because he´s working in Saudi Arabia, and her daughter who´s serving a mission knows English very well because she studied at BYU). She was very excited to hear that you received the photos.

After the mall, we usually take a bus to Lider, which is a lot like Walmart. There we buy groceries and whatever else we might need. If we didn´t need anything at the mall, there´s a cyber there, and we can do our emails without going ... oh ya ... downtown ... that´s how you say centro in English ... I was having trouble remembering that.

I do use the sleeping bag and the sheet liner. They are both very very good and I can sleep comfortably.

The shoes are good too, but they sure get beaten up when I use them every day. They´re pretty dirty now, but I think they´ll hold for a while. I just need to clean them. I use the boots when there´s lots of rain.

This week was awesome and also really hard. My new companion is from Southern California (in a northern part of San Diego). He´s really enthusiastic. He knows how to teach very well, and I´m learning a ton from him. He´s takes the time to explain things thoroughly, which I like a lot. A lot of times I felt like I was following my last companion, not knowing what we were doing. It´s also interesting because I know a lot about the sector that my new companion’s just learning.

However, I´m realizing how much I really don´t know. He´ll ask me questions about the ward or about the area book that I feel I should know, but I only have a vague idea. It´s especially difficult to plan. It normally took a half hour with my old companion, but because my new companion is learning the sector, I spend about an hour and a half each night on it.

I´ve been directing him to houses where I remember meeting people, but I don´t really remember anything about them or I only have a vague idea if they were receptive because I usually didn´t understand what they were saying. I´ll lead him to a house and he´ll ask, "Who lives here?", and sometimes the best answer I have is, "I don´t know, I just remember knocking this door and they were friendly and we gave them a pass-along-card to I don´t know what they said, but they were smiling. That´s good, right?" Not much to go off of, but my new companion's very good at talking with strangers and being friends really fast. I want to be able to do that. He´ll ask about their families and their jobs and they just open up! I run out of ideas of what to say or ask and there´ll be awkward silences. I´m also learning from him ways to incorporate the ward in the work. We´re going to show them a clip from the "Work of Salvation" broadcast (the one about missionary work in June).

It´s been super stressful this week, especially when I don´t have the answers to basic questions like, "Who´s the Elder´s quorum president?" However, I know that this is the work and that I´m at the point that God expects me to be. I know that learning comes little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept.

My Spanish has improved a ton since arriving in Chile. I was introducing my new companion to the bishop´s family, and I was an active part of the conversation. I remember the first night I met them, and I couldn´t understand diddly-squat.

I love you all so much! God loves us too and gave his son, Jesus Christ, so that we could follow his example, repent through the Atonement, and be like Him. We´ve met some people who say they are religious and believe in Christ, but they don´t know what to do about it. They don´t understand that there is a plan for us and road to follow.

Our purpose on this Earth is to learn and grow and gain those experiences we need to progress. Without opportunities to be lazy and procrastinate, we could never learn to be hard workers. Without opportunities to be dishonest, we could never learn integrity. Without temptations, we could never learn self-mastery. Our choices make us who we are, and when we make good choices, we become more like Christ. That´s why Christ established His church, so we can have faith in him, repent, make covenants, and endure in his path. I know this church is true. It is the path that Christ has laid out for each of us, and it is your choice whether you will follow that path. It is freely offered to all.

I love you all!

Elder Connor Christopherson