Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 8, 2014

So, due to other stuff I needed to do, I´ve got like 3 minutes.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I sent to a future missionary who asked for advice on how to prepare for Osorno:

"Bring a nice sleeping bag, because there´s no central heating at night (can´t keep a fire going while everyone´s sleeping).  And I don´t know if you´d be able to buy it or if you´d have to make it, but I have a sheet liner that slides into my sleeping bag like a sock, so instead of needing to wash the sleeping bag, I wash the sheet.

It doesn´t hurt to learn a little Spanish before arriving.

Memorize the references and content to some of the scriptures in Preach My Gospel in Spanish.

Make sure you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith.

I think the most important thing about serving a mission is to be very obedient and keep up a good attitude. There are a lot of missionaries that get depressed or discouraged when they see how many members have fallen away from the church, how many active members don´t keep the commandments, and how many missionaries who don´t do what they´re supposed to. In the mission, I´ve learned that my own attitude and ability to be a great missionary is INDEPENDANT of what anyone else is doing. Strive to be like Christ, and remember that you won´t see most of the fruits of your labor until after the mission. Never feel embarrassed to go to your leaders for help, but remember that your first source of help is Heavenly Father. Enjoy the mission. You get out of it what you put into it. It will stretch you much much much further than you thought it would, but if you are faithful and suffer with JOY, you will enjoy and love the mission very much.

Oh! Last bit. The month before arriving to the MTC was the hardest month of my life up to that point. Satan knows your potential as a missionary and will tempt you tenfold. Put on the whole armor of God and be vigilant. Talk to your bishop about anything that even remotely makes you feel unworthy to be a missionary and he will help you SO MUCH! Repentance is awesome. :D

Enjoy it! I hope I get to meet you in the field :)

-Elder Christopherson"

That´s literally all I have time to say.

I love you all! The church is true! We had a great Stake Conference. :D And we saw the Christmas fireside from Salt Lake City. :D

-Elder Christopherson

December 1, 2104

This will be disappointingly short. Sorry. Today´s a little complicated. Why? My companion, Elder Astete got assigned to be the financial secretary of the mission, so he needs to move to his new apartment TODAY. I´m going to have to stay in the house with the other two elders until my new companion arrives in Wednesday (the other elders in our house have to stay in the house because one of them is recovering from an injury).

I love love love love love being a missionary :D

Love you all!

-Elder Christopherson

Nov 24, 2014

Tommy! How dare you get a photo with a llama before I did. I thought there´d be more of them in Chile, but there are just a bunch of dogs. Elder Astete said there are a lot more in the northern part of Chile.
So much to say! I´ll start by pasting what I sent to President Obeso. It's in Spanish, but you can use Google translate or ask someone who speaks Spanish to translate it. :)
"Hola, Presidente :D

La semana ha sido buena. Hemos tenido various momentos bien sagrados. Estabamos llegando a una lección un poco tarde con nuestro lider misional. Es un niño de 9 años con una abuela activa y una mamá quien no es miembro. Teníamos una idea de lo que ibamos a enseñar antes de entrar, pero por alguna razón, no sintió correcto. Sólo teníamos 20 minutos para enseñar. Al entrar en la casa, nos dimos cuenta que el niño estaba enfermo. Empezamos a enseñar del Sacerdocio, en vez de nuestro primer plan. Su mamá dijo a su hijo a pedir una bendición, él lo pidió, y dimos una bendición de salud. El Espiritu estaba muy fuerte y fue una forma tan inspirado por Dios de enseñar del Sacerdocio a un niño.

Tuvimos otra lección cuando sentimos cambiar la tema cuando el investigador habló de su lectura en 3 Nefi. Empezamos a enseñar de la obediencia, que yo creo que muchas investigadores no endienden bien antes del bautismo. Fue exactamente lo que necesitaba. Sé que esta es verdaderamente una obra inspirada y guiada por Dios.

Gracias por todo lo que hace,
Elder Connor Christopherson"
So, Elder Nelson visited. That was cool! Elder Astete and I got up really early and were the first ones there. We got to sit right in the front :D We all got to shake his hand, along with Sister Nelson, Elder Viñas, Sister Viñas, and Presidente and Hna Obeso :P Elder Nelson has really clear, glassy eyes up close. He was so funny :)
There were interpreters who stood beside Sister Nelson and Elder Nelson, and when Elder Nelson pronounced some crazy east European name, the interpreter pronounced it spot on, and Elder Nelson stopped to say to the interpreter, "That was so good! I´m so proud of you :D You´ve really got that nailed down."

It was especially interesting to see the differences between Elder Ballard´s visit and Elder Nelson´s visit. Elder Ballard was like a businessman, very focused on one topic (talking to everyone) and gave us numerical goals. Elder Nelson didn´t really stay on one topic, but you could tell that he said something that was meant to each of the 250 or so missionaries there.
Something else I noticed is how much Spanish Elder Nelson actually knows. He told us to all sit down in Spanish, and he talked about the etymology (I butchered that spelling) of the Spanish word "evangelio" which translates to "gospel." The "ev-" means message in greek (v changed to u), and "-angel-" means angel in all three languages, so it´s literally an "angelic message."
Interestingly, I liked Sister Nelson´s talk better than Elder Nelson´s talk. They were both wonderful! Sister Nelson talked about how we use our time wisely and she talked about Shindler´s list. Both Elder Nelson and Sister Nelson talked about marriage, saying that the girl should never say yes to a proposal unless they know that he loves God more than her, and that the guy should never propose, unless he knows that she loves God more than him.

Oh, we also had an activity where the chapel hosted an activity for a group that wasn´t related to the church. It´s a group that helps people with different social and mental capacities learn music. There were about 250 people who weren´t members of the church there, and there were lots of missionaries to talk with everyone. We had some good discussions.

Love you all :D

Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, November 23, 2014

 Saltos de Petrohue


November 17, 2014
Kinda super super squished for time today. It´s ´cause we went to Saltos de Petrohue, which had a lot more water than the last year I went. It was cloudy, so you couldn´t see the volcano, but it was still pretty :)
Very interesting the difference in how I felt the first and second times I went there. The first time, I was kinda depressed, had a companion I only sort of got along with, and Spanish was still difficult. Going to the Saltos was like a therapy to keep me breathing. Today I went as a seasoned Elder returning to a nice place, but perfectly content to continue working in this glorious work.
Max, nice one with the upside down controller.
Maia, nice one with the chicken pillows.
LaRee, nice one with the great new job.
It´s been a wonderful week! I only saw the subject line on Tommy´s email, but it sounds like he had a really great week too. Speaking of which, Tommy, do you have IPads in your mission? We´re always dreaming of one day having IPads like the USA missionaries.
We have lots of people in teaching right now who we can visit regularly and several of them are actually making progress. We taught 2 or more lessons almost every day this week, which is SOOOO nice! Several of them are children between 9 and 11 with parents who are either not members or who have been less active. President Obeso won´t let anyone under 17 years old be baptized unless there´s at least one active member who lives with them. We´ve made it clear to the adults that they´ll need to make some progress and they´re progressing :D

These children are quite remarkable. I´ve taught children before, but they´ve been really distracted or simply didn´t understand, but these children are really spiritually mature. We were talking about Christ and the Atonement and an 11 year old pulled out her scriptures and showed us Article of Faith number 3 without us asking anything. Several of them are already in the habit of reading the scriptures every day (something that many adult members are neglecting) and one of them marks them with a different color for every topic.

We invited the son of a lady who´s not a member (the grandma´s active) to pray about José Smith and he told us that he did and he felt in his heart that he was a prophet. Honestly, there´s a really great group that´s about to enter the youth program of Rahue Alto.

Elder Nelson was also wonderful, but I´ll have to talk about that next week, ´cause I´m dead out of time. CHAO!!!
-Elder Connor Christopherson

November 10, 2014
They changed the band uniforms. Mish.
Sorry I left my camera in the house. I actually do have photos to send, but they´ll have to wait till next week.
We had zone conference this week :D President Obeso pushed them all to the beginning of the month because ELDER RUSSEL M. NELSON IS COMING :D An elder in the office told me he arrives today, even though the conference isn´t until Wednesday. I wonder what he´ll be doing tomorrow.
The zone conference was very good. My favorite part is that we watched a video that I´ve already seen where a talk by President Eyring and another by Elder Holland are sort of intertwined together along with videos showing the Atonement of Christ. It´s really good!

Hna. Obeso isn´t happy that several missionaries don´t do their half hour of exercises in the morning, but I´ve been doing them :D They also want us to all have outlines to present every lesson in 15, 30, and 45 minutes (those instructions came from Elder Viñas). I kinda flaked and didn´t get them written down, maybe because I DO think about better ways to teach the lessons. I feel like lots of people see missionary work as teaching lessons, but missionaries teach people, not lessons. I don´t know. We´ll see how it goes. I still have to get those done.

I guess you don´t really see the paperwork part of missionary work. There are lots of little bureaucracy stuff like calculating our monthly budget for our housing, transportation, and stuff like that. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday I´ve got to talk with all the missionaries in my sector and ask a bunch of information. Then I ask about the investigators and see what I can do to help. There´s a certain formula I´m supposed to follow, but I don´t like the way it´s made and am going to make my own today. Kinda a strength and a weakness of mine: I don´t like sticking to the way it´s always been done if I think there´s a better way. I´m very strictly obedient with things like rules, but as far as procedural things go, I don´t like following the beaten path.
We´ve been teaching lots of lessons. The weird part is that more than half of our investigators are children younger than 12 years old. There are lot´s of part member families here who have kinda neglected getting their children baptized. We try to make it clear to these families that we will not baptize them until at least one adult member of the family is active in the church. Our most promising investigator is named Juan. His wife´s a less active member (she lives 100 yards from the chapel) and his son´s going to recieve his mission call this week or the next. Juan Carlos was a caribinero and now works as a guard in the countryside. His weekends shift backwards a day every week, so with his current job, he can only attend church two Sundays for every seven. He reads the Book of Mormon out loud almost every night, but still hasn´t recieved an answer as he prays about it. My companion thinks it´s because he knows that if he joins the church, he´ll have to give up smoking, and needs the faith to do that if he´s going to recieve an answer. We´re going to focus on that in our next appointment tommorow.
I love you all! I´m very excited about Elder Nelson :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 3, 2014

Lots of technical difficulties this week, so I'll probably only be able to give bare bones today.

Business first.
1. The package with the flip flops DID arrive. Muchas gracias :D

2. Could you include Marinne Rhodes in the emailing list? (and the Mittleman twins as well and Hayden Blanchard when he leaves) Hope I didn´t forget anyone.

3. This came in an announcement this week: “Missionaries should submit Social Security numbers on the Missionary Portal. If missionaries do not have their number or have forgotten it, parents may call Missionary Medical at 1-800-777-1647 or 1-801-578-5650 Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Mountain Standard Time to report the Social Security number by telephone”. Could y´all do that por favor?

4. You asked what to put in the Christmas package. There´s already candy in Chile that is much cheaper than candy that´s been sent in a pricy package. Don´t worry about the candy. If there´s anything I need, it´s the pair of jeans I asked for and new pair of shoes (just in case the ones I have don´t make it till the end).
5. MAX!!! HOLY MOLY YOU LOOK DIFFERENT! It´s like he was put in the taffy stretching machine in Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

Someone asked about Halloween. They DO celebrate Halloween in Chile. Well... sort of. It´s a rather controversial topic. Some are really for it and some are really against it. There are a lot of protostant churches here that are very opposed to it, because it´s a pagan holiday that originated from people going door to door threatening people to sacrifice stuff to a false god. Apparently it´s the most important day on the Satanic calendar. It´s also sort of an imported holiday. It´s seen as a gringo holiday being injected into Chilean culture. It´s only started becoming popular in Chile for in the last few years. Few houses were decorated, but there were a few in the newer communities. There were also a lot more trick-or-treaters in the newer communities and very few in the older ones.
Wow... there went my time. Love you all :D I actually took a few pictures, so I´ll have those sent next week.
I love you all :D :D :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sorry I haven´t sent photos. My camera needs to be charged.
I haven´t read all the emails yet (just 2 of them) because my new companion doesn´t like taking the time to print them all first and read them (that tends to happen with the latino companions).
CAMBIOS! I´m living in a house full of nerds (yay!) in Rahue Alto. That´s in Osorno, the center of the mission. Holy cow, there are a lot of missionary sectors and wards here. They all get together every Monday to play basketball and a variation of soccer (where it´s everyone against the goalie, but the goalie keeps being swapped).
I said my house is full of nerds. My new companion, Elder Astete (ah-STEY-tey) is from San Felipe, Chile and is an enormous Nintendo fan. He´s got a Yoshi plush and he made a Mario party board out of cardboard that the elders play on P-day if there´s time. I really like working with him. He´s very smart and wants to be a doctor. He´s been telling me all about the new games and advancements in Nintendo (Tommy, I´ve got the whole character roster for SSB4), and it just so happens that lots of people in Osorno have Wii-U´s in their houses. I feel like Osorno is just a bit techier than Panguipulli, where some members needed help to be able to send an email. Elder Cummings also lives with us and has the entire soundtrack of Zelda and Lord of the Rings. Elder Vega, from Colombia, is not as geeky, but is enjoying his new house full of nerds.
Oh! To the Lawton´s (who still read my blog), please wish Elder Lawton "Happy Birthday" from me, okay?
Fun side bit -- All the schools 12th grade and lower in Chile have uniforms. It´s been common in all of my sectors to see lots of youth in uniforms in the street. Near our house here in Rahue, there´s a school where their school uniforms are LAB COATS!!! It´s so funny! They´re like young pharmacists (a little Phineas and Ferb reference) walking all around in their backpacks.
GREAT NEWS! Elder Russell M. Nelson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles comes to the Chile Osorno Mission on the 12th of November :D He´ll be coming to the Osorno stake center, so it´ll be really easy for us to get good seats :D He´ll be coming with the returning Elder Viñas. Yay! Three general authorities in one year :D I think there are going to be major boundary changes when Elder Nelson comes; stakes and wards are going to get merged. It´s just like when Elder Holland was here 10 years ago and did the same thing. It´s kinda like Alma 4, when people get prideful, the church leaders need to come and prune the vineyard. It´s really tough for the several members who are wonderful and working so hard to hold everything together, but there are so many members who don´t pull their own weight. It blocks nonmembers from finding the Lord´s church and is a big trial for the active members. It´s like the scripture that says that if we´re lukewarm, God will "SPEW" us out.
There are lots of little nice things about being in Osorno. We´re in a stake that´s a little more experienced and developed, so there´s a higher home teaching percentage (it still needs to be improved a lot) and members are more organized with councils. The youth program in the stake is good and there are several who are working on their mission papers. The lady who makes us lunch (the relief society president) happens to be the sister of Marcia Espinosa from my ward in Puerto Montt :D They both have the same voice and way of speaking. The whole family is awesome! Their son recently got back from a mission in Colombia and they have a daughter who´s waiting for the call. She speaks English, so she might get called to the United States (actually, there´s one missionary from Osorno who got called to California speaking Mandarin Chinese. He didn´t know English OR  Mandarin Chinese). And there’s one more guy preparing for a mission whose mom  is less active (she lives right across the street from church and doesn´t attend... ) and his dad is investigating the church right now. Actually, he´s kinda our focus as far as investigators go. We taught him twice this week and he’s progressing step by step.
Gotta go! I´m so glad that it´s going well for Maia :D and for Max :D and I imagine for Kelsi :D
Sorry for the lack of photos, there´ll be lots of photo ops this week now that I´m in a city, including a big famous cathedral. It’s rather impressive looking.
The work is working, the church is true, I love you all, and I´m just about to go overtime.
Elder Connor Christopherson
October 20, 2014

Is it just me, or does Maia go to a movie theater every weekend? Oh, and Maia’s new calling means she gets to learn all about family history now :D Magnify your calling and you´ll be blessed. Tommy magnified his calling by waving his arm around once every 2 weeks and got lots of blessings. Just look at him now :D (note: Tommy was one of two hymn directors for our weekly ward prayer).

Max, it seems to me that your time in pit has been a comedy of flops. I´m glad you have a great attitude about it. Something that the mission has taught me, attitude is EVERYTHING. That´s what charity is, it´s when your attitude is to enjoy and love suffering through whatever the Lord wants you to do, and I mean WHATEVER he wants you to do, even if it´s walking in the rain without a jacket trying to find people to talk to in the rain JUST so people think, "Wow, why is that crazy gringo so happy in the rain?” (Thanks, Rebecca Stenquist, for teaching me that.) That was me yesterday (worse-than-usual planning). I was smiling the whole time. That´s charity.

Well, I´m about 96% sure I´ve got a cambio (transfer) this week. Elder Lawton and Elder Maldonado had to go to Osorno for an interview with President Obeso (a good 10 hours of travelling in one day). While they were in the office, they noticed that the wall with all the missionaries on it was already changed with the missionaries in their new sectors. They said "Aw, well. Just don´t tell anyone till Monday." Well, now it´s Monday and they said I´m going to Rahue, but they don´t know which sector. The Rahue (pronounced RAH-way) zone has 5 sectors in Rahue (a city conjoined with Osorno) and has 6 sectors in other small towns. I don´t know who my companion is either. Elder Maldonado said he looked latino. As far as I know, my last companion, Elder Petrovelli, is in the Rahue zone, so we´ll see if we run into each other.

Funny nature story. There´s a silly looking dog in our sector that we call Droopy. He´s like a blood hound, but really long and has really short legs like a wiener dog. He´s very floppy and the other day he just came up to us and just dropped onto his back and just started flopping around. I loved it :D

This week we taught lots of new people. Just as I leave, the teaching pool just swelled xD. Which will I tell you about?

There´s one lady we contacted in the street about a month ago who showed a lot of interest in English classes. She´s been coming to our English classes every Wednesday and she told us she had family problems, so we gave her a pamphlet called "3 Maneras Sencillas de Ser una Familia Más Feliz" (not sure what it´s actually called in English). It´s got a bunch of suggestions to be a happier family. Anyway, this week, SHE called US to set an appointment in the chapel. She told us that she´s trying to apply the points in her family (she´s like 34 and living with her parents and siblings who are all grown), but it´s not working. It sounds like they don´t really do anything together as a family and when she tried to make it happen, everyone just wanted to go and do their own thing. We got kinda baffled, because we tried teaching about how the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families, but nothing clicked. The spirit wasn´t there even though we felt we did everything we knew how to ask inspired questions, use the scriptures, and invite her to come unto Christ. She asked if she could continue  meeting us every Friday. We´re gonna pray more so we know what she needs. Funny thing that she always tries to speak to us in English, even when it would be so much easier if she spoke Spanish for the lessons. She´s timid, but persistent and isn´t afraid to seek what she wants.

I love you all so much :D Chao :D

Elder Connor Christopherson

Friday, October 17, 2014

 ​We watched most of the conference in English.
Elder Strate on the left, Elder Lawton (middle) is from Provo, and me.
Panguipulli, Chile
October 13, 2014

Man, everyone keeps talking about the movie "Meet the Mormons." Elder Strate and I really want to see it, but it´s kinda nonexistant here. I probably won´t get to see it until I get back to the USA, unless a DVD comes out and the missionaries receive free copies.

Oh, you asked about the shoes. I´ve got an old pair that still works and could probably last at least a month. The Eccos which I currently use are very good, and I´d guess they´ve got about 4 months more before they die. I´ve also got boots, but the warmer days are coming so I probably won´t use those for the rest of the mission.

I just tried sending photos. Don´t know why, but some of them aren´t showing up.

Mish (that´s something people say that means "huh, interesting.") Sorry.

We had divisions with the assistants to the president. They´re really good and made me realize that I´ve kinda relaxed and could be pushing harder. I´ve been a little confused about that this month because I´ve wanted to do my best, but being overstressed is really really bad. There´s a way to do both. GOALS AND PLANS! I´m not talking about the key indicators, I´m talking about everything else. For example, I´ve been lazy with my morning exercises, so I asked Elder Strate to make me an exercise routine and now I have something set to measure myself against. With goals and plans, you commit yourself in specific ways to do better. It takes faith to set goals and the act of completing goals is literally repentance. The act of committing yourself is like making covenants, you commit yourself. Then you receive power from God to help accomplish your goal (Gift of the Holy Ghost). Endure in your goals and you will see progress. This is the spark which I´ve needed. By dedicating myself to and verifying myself with goals and plans, I progress and get out of the rut :D   I never thought I´d say something like that before the mission, but goodness, it´s effective when done right. I think the reason goals didn´t really always work before is because they haven’t been internally motivated. That´s key. They must be internally motivated. You have to want to change. Goals and plans are the way to change desire and wishes into action and reality.

Oh, and we taught an 80-year-old lady with a 14-year-old great granddaughter (wow). The lady is missing an eye and people pay her to pray over their kids when they´ve got problems. Elder Strate and I didn´t realize what was going on at first. We walked in the house with several other people. We thought they were family and started talking to them, then I noticed that the lady was holding 3 peppers with a little card with a picture of San Sebastian (all the Catholics here have a ton of San Sebastian stuff. I guess he´s an important Catholic martyr.) She was making cross motions with her hand as she recited a long prayer that was too quiet to hear. Then she threw the peppers in the fire. As the family left, they paid the 80-year-old lady. As it turns out, lots of people bring their children to this lady and she supports herself this way. She´s a very nice lady, but she doesn´t understand much about religion (which she herself acknowledges) and she can´t read because of her vision. She was slow to understand the teachings of the restoration, but I think we´ll pass by again because she listened well even though we´ll need to use lots of examples to help her understand.

Interesting world we live in.

love you all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Friday, October 10, 2014

It´s been a great week! I loved General Conference, the weather is nice, I´ve been bolder in inviting others to come unto Christ, and I feel the Sprit in abundance. It´s good to be a missionary in these times.

I love how the speakers at General Conference can speak in their native languages now. I watched one in Spanish, and I watched the one in Portuguese with Elder Biggs. It was SO COOL how much I could understand of the Portuguese. It´s really similar to Spanish. It´s just barely different enough to be considered another language. Oh, and we met two people from Spain in the street. They speak Spanish very differently. It was fun hearing all the differences, like how they use "vosotros," "pues," and how they lisp :D Definitely excited to hear Chrissy´s Spanish.

I want to say that I cried during Elder Callister´s talk and it just hit me how I´ve been blessed to have such an absolutely wonderful mother :D You, mom, have been truly inspired in helping me be more Christlike. Your last email really helped me a lot.

I hope Maia doesn´t get mad at me for sending this excerpt from her email. I loved it :D

(from Maia at BYU Idaho):  "FHE was great this week. We went to Brother Young's house (a member of our bishopric), and we had an improve lesson from this guy in our group named Dan, and we ate yummy potato chili stuff made by Sister Young, and we went four wheeling!!!! Brother Young owned two four wheelers or quads or whatever and there's this trail next to his house. It was night and dark and pretty cold (it's been sweater weather here in Rexburg, though this week might be a bit warmer) and this guy in our FHE group (Brandt) took me out on one of the four wheelers. IT WAS SO FUUUUN!!!!! We went fast and it was awesome!!!!!!!!! It's the first time that I've ever gone four wheeling. Right after I went four wheeling with Brandt I got on again with this other guy named Jeremy. I didn't drive, don't worry (I have enough trouble driving a normal car), I just sat behind the driver. I forgot to mention four wheeling in my weekly phone call with our family. I wonder what our mom would think of me four wheeling, since I know that she doesn't like motorcycles..."
I assume by the word "forgot" that she would have told you and should therefore not get upset that I shared that with you. I´m glad you have a great FHE group, Maia. I´m glad college is going so well. Love you :D
Oh, gosh... I wrote in my agenda like 5 times to check on my shoe situation and didn´t..... I´ll be sure to do that this week. Sorry :P
To answer your questions, my next transfer is the 22nd of October. I end my mission in Chile in the 20th of May, so I´ll probably get back Friday of that week.

I´m about to get preachy, so watch out! Listen up.

It seems that the plague of carefully crafted doubts is spreading and the Lord´s called prophets and apostles have noticed and felt it. I sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators. There were so many talks that focused on TRUTH. When logical paradoxes, apparent contradictions, and other doubts come in conflict with our faith, we feel lost. We feel dropped into a riptide, partially because we don´t feel like we have a good solid foundation or reference point from which we can obtain truth. Competing and seemingly reasonable ideas contest with our spiritual knowledge. Without a rock upon which we can set foot, we will never have confidence in what we know.

President Uchtdorf gave a particularly clear illustration. The natural man only has his 5 senses to take information and his reason to form truth from what he has. Our information in that context is very limited. It was only a few hundred years ago that we knew that the Earth wasn´t flat. Who knows what else we do not yet know. Using only our 5 senses, we could very well be in a dream, like in Inception, or in a computer program, like in the Matrix.

HOWEVER, we have more than just our 5 senses. We have PERSONAL REVELATION. I testify that personal revelation is REAL. It is as real as or even more real than gravity, electromagnetism, or any other scientific law we know.

We can receive personal revelation because our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to achieve our potential as His children. You don´t need to know that to receive revelation, but that´s why it works. To KNOW any spiritual truth, it must be by the Holy Spirit. You can know by searching for it. Truth can be found in all places, although it is the least diluted by falsehoods in the teachings of the prophets. You must ponder about it. Take advantage of those quite moments with all electronics turned off. Then you must pray and ask Him, who is the source of all truth. You will know as you act on the answers you receive. You will recognize your answer by the fruits of that answer. Does it make you angry, sad, frustrated, discontent, or confused? Does it make you calm, happy, peaceful, content, and sure? As you follow these steps of searching, pondering, praying, and acting, you will know as I know, and by the same power by which I know, even by the Holy Spirit. That testimony will melt your doubts in the most miraculous way. I share this solemn testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

oops... I´m overtime today :(

I love you all!
-Elder Connor Christopherson

My companion, Elder Strate, is right behind me in the photo (back row, left side).
Elder Viñas is the only one without a nametag.
Lots of friends in this photo :D
September 29, 2014

Hm. Just when spring was going to start, it decided to rain a bunch this week. We´ve had pretty good weather for most of September, but this last week has been wet.

Before I forget, I wanted to comment that Elder Strate and I talk about lots of different stuff in the street. He´s way into hunting and he knows a lot about guns. He´s thinking about joining the military. He´s also very into movies and video games with dramatic storylines (like Call of Duty or Batman: Arkham City). He also tells me a lot about silly Youtube channels like "How it should have ended." Elder Strate helps me feel very relaxed as a missionary. It helps a lot when there are a lot of little tasks we need to do—and it´s a VERY pleasant contrast to certain past companions. :)
Maia, nice you got to start the semester with Elder Holland. His talks are the best :D I wonder if he´ll talk about similar stuff in General Conference (like, similar to what he said to you).
Mom, it is true. I miss those mornings where we feasted on waffles loaded with honey and syrup and jelly and all that stuff. There´s really good honey here in Chile, but it´s all solid. I need to use a knife to take it out. I try to microwave it and it becomes pure liquid. As long as I´m talking about waffles, I also miss Texas sheet cake, chicken pillows, In-n-Out, and Costco pizza :D

We had an exchange with the zone leaders in Lanco this week and it went really well. The zone leaders have a lot of people they´re teaching, so it was really nice to get to teach so many lessons.

We talked a lot about the members. So many of the members here are like the thin soil in the parable of the sower. The seed grows quickly and flourishes for a season, but then the dry season comes and the sprout dries out for lack of strong roots. New members hear about home teaching and mutual with the missionaries, then they show up to church and don´t see any of it, so they assume that´s normal. The roots aren´t set. This happens because so many members don´t understand the doctrine. Everyone needs to do the OLA: Orar, Leer, and Asistir la capilla (pray, read, and attend church) READ YOUR SCRIPTURES! But don´t just read them. Study them. Search them. Ponder them. Pray about them. It´s good for you :D

We taught a guy yesterday whose son was murdered a week ago. He´s the boyfriend-fiance-unmarried-husband-whatever-you´d-call-that of a member who attends church almost every Sunday. It´s hard for her because he´s been very closed-off to reading the scriptures, which is essential to conversion. He´s so sad and confused, with so many questions, especially about the justice of God. As he asked questions, scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the Bible came to my head and I knew that the answers he wanted were RIGHT THERE! We testified likewise and explained that he´d never understand unless he actually looked for the answers. There are members I´ve taught who have attended church for 20 years, but who really don´t understand the basic doctrines of the church because they don´t search, ponder, and pray. It´s kinda sad that the member isn´t married and is in this situation. It´s hard for people to get out of cohabitation, but there are two ways to do it—separation or marriage.

We had interviews with President Obeso this week In Lanco (I´ve been in Lanco Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this last week. Lot´s of bus time.)  Hermana Obeso did floor exercises and stretches as we waited (it was silly walking into the chapel to find all the missionaries on the floor leaning to the side with they´re legs stretched out) President Obeso told me something that I´ve been thinking about a lot this weekend. He said there´s something we´re lacking, some sort of spark that we need to be able to fully enjoy the mission. He said he doesn´t know what it is, but he said that all the times he´s recently seen us, he´s felt there´s something missing. He made it very clear that we´re good, obedient missionaries, but there´s some sort of spark we need. I still don´t know what that is, but we´re looking for it.

The church is true. THE BOOK OF MORMON IS FULL OF TRUTH! Good stuff in there :D

Love y´all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, September 28, 2014

View from our fronot door. Our house looks like the one on the far right with a car in front.
Note from Mom: I thought this photo was out of focus until I realized it was heavy rain--which is a daily occurrence for Connor.
Dinner in Melefquen (the town 15 minutes from Panguipulli).
Sept 22, 2014
Lots to say. Oh... oops. I left my notes in the house. What was I going to say?

This week we travelled to Osorno to have a special capacitation with Elder Viñas of the Quorum of the Seventy. We had a good 9 hours in a van or in a bus, but it was worth it :D
Elder Viñas is from Uruguay (I think), so it was cool that he spoke in Spanish. First time I´ve heard a general authority speak Spanish. Normally, in General Conference, when some of the non-native English speakers speak, you can tell that it´s hard for them, and I sometimes feel that they can´t say it quite as well as they might have in their native tongue. Makes me glad that they´re letting people speak in their native tongues this next General Conference. If someone gets up and speaks Spanish, I´m definitely going to the other room to hear it, rather than translated into English.

Elder Viñas was fantastic :D He gave lots of time for the missionaries to express their thoughts and feelings on the Atonement. Something that hit me is that Christ loves his role as Savior of the World. He loves helping us and he lives for making things work out in the end. It´s His work and His glory (along with his Father). We need not feel ashamed as we lay our challenges and our guilt before Him because He LOVES helping and he LOVES showing us the right way to go, even when we are sometimes slow to repent, change, and obey.

Elder Viñas also showed us the importance of having Priesthood holders who are active in the church. The new convert retention structure of the church doesn´t work too well in branches because there aren´t enough priesthood holders. As missionaries, we need to be more accountable for that, and we should always be aware of the new converts. Elder Viñas pulled out a list of all the elders who were ordained in the last 12 months and asked about every one of them. It was really embarrassing for the missionaries who didn´t know who these people were. Thankfully, we knew what´s going on with our branch´s recently ordained elder. He just left for a mission in Peru today.
I also loved how Elder Viñas didn´t stay in the pulpit, but walked around the aisles with a mic to talk with us.

Oh! time just went by really fast... um still lots to say.

We had a TON of nonmembers attend sacrament meeting today because 2 members of the branch were ordained as missionaries and the parents of one of them invited all their friends from Melefquen (a town about 15 minutes from Panguipulli). We had a great gospel principles class and President Obeso came to set them apart. The setting apart was a big reunion in the chapel (almost as many people attended as in sacrament meeting). There were some testimonies and President Obeso explained how missions work in a way that was so clear and understandable. The two missionaries left in a plane to Peru today (two different missions in Peru).

Hey! Great news! Elder Viñas will return to our mission in November, but this time he´s going to bring a friend. Elder Russel M. Nelson is coming to our mission at the end of November. :D That´s 3 general authorities in just one year. It appears our mission needs help :D

Max. The ward corn roast was in the other direction. Enjoy silly mistakes like that. Sorry that band has frustrations. That´s how I felt about winter drumline my Junior year.

And... I lost $40 bucks today. I hate losing things.

But, the church is true. The book is blue. And God´s a Mormon. (That´s something Elder Strate says sometimes).

Love you all :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: Mom, thanks so much for the testimony. :D

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pshh. I always end up with a computer with a hole right where the USB drive should be. I guess no photos today :/

Maia, yup. surprise! BYU is basically extended EFY with homework. 

I´ve had a lot happen this week.

We had two new elders move in with us. Elder Maldonado from Bolivia (he´s served in Bolivia, Venezuela, and now he´s ending his mission here in Chile), and Elder Lawton from Provo (turns out, his family´s been reading my blog since he got his call. Hola, Brother and Sister Lawton! Makes me wonder how many other people read my blog. I guess I´ll never know. (He said I topped the Google search for "Chile Osorno Mission blog.")) They´re both excellent elders. They´ve been here for just a few days, and they´ve been machines for finding new people to teach. They´ve had more lessons with member this week than we´ve had in any week this whole month. It´s great living with these humble, spiritual, cheerful people.

President Obeso called me an hour ago (that´s a big deal here. I think in other missions they contact their mission president pretty frequently, but here it happens a few times a year). He said he was calling all the trainers to remind them of the trust that the Lord has in them. That call came exactly when I needed it. It helped a lot and I know it was inspired.

This week we have the Chilean holiday,18 de Septiembre :D As it turns out, they made a law that everyone must have a Chilean flag in front of their house or they receive a $300 ticket, so we need to find a flag pole today.

A seventy is coming to speak to the  mission this week on Wednesday, and we´re all going to travel to Osorno. It´s gonna cost a good $200 to get the zone there (I´m not sure if that´s a two way or a one way price, but the zone leaders have it all figured out), it´s amazing how much the Lord provides through well managed tithing.

This last week we had branch conference, and the branch planned for an activity every day. That meant a lot more time in the chapel. It´s amazing how much time these branch members work for the church. The attendance just keeps dropping and the members are working harder and harder. We feel like Abinadi, who preached and was killed and never saw the fruits of his labors. It´s the Lord´s work, not ours.

One of the activities involved going to Hno. B´s house at 7:00am to give a prayer for Panguipulli. This member lives very far from us and collectivos don´t run that early, so we had to get up at 5:00am to make it on time. We got there and all the lights were out, so that worried us a bit. We thought we might have been the only people to show up. It started to rain in the dark morning as we sat outside the Hno. B´s unlit house. Thankfully, a car pulled up with the Relief Society president asking where a different member lived. As it turns out, the activity wasn´t in Hno. B´s house, but in another one nearby. Good thing the Relief Society president got lost. The meeting was spiritual and we all got to bear our testimonies, but goodness it was early. I guess when the Lord wants you to do something, you do it whether you think it´s worth it or not. That´s what Abraham had to do when he sacrificed his son. The Lord makes stuff turn out in the end.

I may not have time to fully describe the last experience of the week. We ran into a gringo named Steve who was really friendly and who invited us to visit. They have a lovely family here in Panguipulli. It´s actually a really long story, so I´ll sum it up and I might get to elaborate more next week. We were in that house for WAY too long. They gave us pumpkin pie and were really nice. He said he had a list of questions for us (which we had asked him to make so we could focus our teachings in his needs). I´m pretty sure the list of questions came from an anti-Mormon site. As it turns out, Steve is a pastor who knows the Bible REALLY well. He also knows a lot about all the big churches, including Christ´s restored church. He had a lot of really hard questions that have been nagging at me all week. Several of them I could answer right away, some of them took lots of study during the week to be able to answer for myself, and other questions I may not be able to answer for a while. It´s really deceptive how the truths and falsehoods were entwined. I guess that´s what happened to Saul. He sincerely believed the teachings of the Pharisees, but the Lord knew Saul´s heart. He knew that Saul was sincerely trying to do what was right, so he could appear to Saul and help point him in the right direction. I have faith if we do our best, the Lord points us in the right direction with the condition that we depend in His wisdom more that our own wisdom. Ask and ye shall receive.

Love you all!
-Elder Connor Christopherson

Hola, todos :D

The second package arrived. :D a camera, garments, Reese´s, and a debit card with MONEY :D :D :D Is that bad, that that´s the thing I was most happy about?

The package also had some photos from our fridge. Grad photos always look a little ridiculous :P Everyone looks so much older . . . like they´re graduating high school or something. I loved the magnet about God´s voice being encouraging rather than pushing.

Congrats, Hayden, for the mission call. :D

Maia, I love the extended analogy. Sorry about the dead possum. LaRee actually guessed what you were talking about and told me she loved the last book. You´ve got to talk about it with her. :P Hmm. Starting next week, the emails from my parents and from Maia are going to be different because they´ll actually be in different parts of the country. Don´t freeze in Idaho. (tip about college: Get to bed on time. I had some good laughs with friends, but I think my grades would have been better if I had gotten to bed earlier. It´s also important to look for fun service opportunities to do with friends. I don´t know if Idaho will have the same, but BYU had a place to go where you could find out about all the service opportunities. I ended up cleaning horse poop with a bunch of strangers in my first week. FUN :D Oh! 3rd tip... and what might actually be the most important of the 3. Meet everyone and enjoy talking with and doing stuff with strangers, ESPECIALLY THE FIRST TWO WEEKS! What happens is, the first few weeks, nobody knows anyone else, so everyone´s floatin´around finding where they fit in. After a few weeks, everyone´s found the people they´re comfortable with, and then it´s a lot more difficult to join in with a group (all the inside jokes ´n stuff have already been set). If you get to know a ton of people right from the get go, you´ll get to choose which type of friends you want to be with. If you just kinda wait around, you won’t get to pick and you´ll be stuck with whatever life gives you, but they´ll always want to do stuff you don´t really want to do and you´ll stay in your housing all day. Not a good way to spend your first year. Make lots of friends :D. I loved my first year of college and consider it the best year of my life up to that point. Make it awesome :D

Ok... I don´t have much time left. You all probably want to know what´s going on in Chile. We´re kinda dry on investigators at this point except for Natali and Dagni. They´re awesome :D They´re way into nature. They don´t eat meat or egg, and they try to get all their food the most organic possible. It´s delicious :D Very fresh. They´re very healthy, athletic people. We´ve been teaching them with the Biggs (the senior couple). Dagni (the mom) is very intelligent and has already read lots from the Book of Mormon. She really liked the story of the Brother of Jared and was telling us all about it. Natali (the daughter) is always cooking in the other room, but she listens to every word. The food she makes is spectacular. The Biggs asked if they could be the missionaries responsible for Natali and Dagni, so we won´t get to visit them quite as much now, but I´m really excited to see when they get baptized.

Cambios are this week and 2 more elders are coming to Panguipulli, but I don´t know either one of them . It´ll be weird sharing the house between 4 elders now. It´ll feel a lot more cramped. We´ve done a ton of cleaning and organizing this week to prepare. There are so many new missionaries that have been coming. More than half of the mission is in training schedule now (training or being trained).

Elder Strate continues being a wonderful, supportive companion. He did particularly well in a practice we did with the zone leaders last week.

I love you ALL :D :D : D :D :D :D Even you. Yes, you.

-Elder Connor Christopherson