Sunday, January 19, 2014

My new home  in the mountains-- Coyhaique

I´m looking forward to when I can just tell you EVERYTHING about missionary life in Chile. I feel like I only get so little information through.

Coyhaique is nice. They have a nice chapel (but it doesn´t have a synthesizer like the ones in Puerto Montt). The congregation strayed a smidge from the written music and there´s not a strong sense of time, but I suppose that´s how a lot of branches are in the world (small congregations).

This last Sunday was really good in that lots of investigators and less active members showed up. We had FOUR investigators (2 from each sector) in Gospel Principles class! A quick glance at the computer in the clerk´s office told me there are about 1250 members in the branch, so there´re a lot of inactive members (average 62 attending). From my experience, many inactive members leave because a member offended them. That just seems so backwards to me! It´s counterproductive! It´s self-defeating! Why punish yourself for what someone else said? Why prohibit yourself from heavenly blessings because of something someone else did?

Another obstacle is that being married in Chile is against the norm. When two people love each other, they just live together. A young married sister in the ward told me people discriminated her more for being married than for being Mormon. We have an investigator who has been attending church for 3 years but isn´t baptized because she lives with a daughter and a man who´s happens to be an inactive member. He has nothing against the church, but he really resists the idea of marrying.

I want to tell you about a woman we met. We were walking down the street and my companion saw something in the way she glanced at us (she was walking in the other direction). She had already passed us and was behind us when my companion turned around and said ¨Sister! We want to give you something!” We gave her a card but she told us she´s already a member. She lives alone with a 24 year old daughter. The daughter is pregnant and her boyfriend left her. She also has 3 other kids grown and gone, one of which has been in jail in Santiago for several years. Her mom died and her dad has mental problems. She and her daughter both smoke. We gave her a plan to stop smoking and she´s been so excited about quitting smoking :D She´s slipped a few times, but she´s improving a ton! She´s been very adamant about attending church (even if she needs to walk a half hour to get there) and she bore her testimony in sacrament meeting. She´s an example of someone prepared by the Lord :D

I love you all :D Chao
Elder Christopherson

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Eve
This photo was taken right after Connor Skyped with us at home.
It was SO WONDERFUL to see him and talk with him for 45 minutes!!!

 Christmas Eve with companion and roommates.
Zone Conference the week before Christmas

I was transferred to Coyhaique, a very remote town in the mountains.

 I was transferred to Coyhaique, a very remote town in the mountains.
January 6, 2014

Wow! Okay, I got a lot of emails today. Thanks for all the birthday wishes :D Thank you thank you thatnk you gracias thank you for the awesome packages from my family and Aunt Carol. The ocarina was quite a surprise. My companion was very excited about the beef jerky. Thank you, Bishop Baker, for the nice Christmas card :D Thank you, Jenna Ward, Amy LaRue, Sister Webber, Sister Grover, and all the rest of my family!
Lots and lots to say. So, I was transferred to Coyhaique, a very remote town in the mountains. I flew here last Wednesday and live in a house with three other missionaries. Anyone can argue that their mission is the best in the world, but no one can dispute that I´m in the most beautiful. Coyhaique reminds me of Middle Earth crossed with Utah (specifically the smallness of Park City, but it´s a lot poorer here). The zone includes Coyhaique, Puerto Aysén, and Puerto Cisnes. There are 2 branches in Coyhaique: Alto and Centro. I´m in Alto with a total of 4 elders and an average of 68 attending church each week.

My companion is from Brazil. His parents are converts to the church and he was in the Brazilian air force for about 4 years before coming to serve a mission. He didn´t speak any Spanish before entering the MTC in Brazil, but he speaks very well and wants to learn English from me.
I´ve got a lot of stories but only time for one. There´s a British guy in our ward! He was baptized about 20 years ago, but only reactivated a few months ago. He met a lady in our branch through an LDS singles website and basically dropped everything to come here. The thing is . . . she doesn´t speak a ton of English and he speaks less Spanish (given, he´s only had about 6 weeks here). He feels a bit lonely here so I kept him company during priesthood class. I also interpreted during an interview with him and the quorum president. It´s so fun hearing him talk! I´m excited to hear how he progresses.

 I'm going to miss Puerto Montt a lot. I really got to know and love those people. I could tell you about so many of them. People sometimes ask me if Chile is really different from the United States. What really surprised me more than any differences is how much is the same. It´s really the same :) We had a ward Christmas devotional where some of the Young Men and Young Women sang and it just felt so much like home.

 Love you all. :D I wish I could spend hours writing something personal to each one of you, but I can´t. Just know that I DO think about you and I do pray for your wellbeing.

 -Elder Connor Christopherson


Baptism right before I left Puerto Montt.