Monday, March 24, 2014

Photo:  Elder Holt and I were cutting firewood for a lady. We`ve taught her 18 year old daughter. The mom said I needed to keep the little girls away from Elder Holt while he was cutting with the ax, so I opened up my backpack and they started rummaging. One took out my camera and took this  photo (along with like 50 photos of her finger covering the lens). One of the 3 girls attended church. She`s like 7 years old, so I don`t know how she ended up going because the rest of her family has never come before. She went with an older lady in our ward who can barely take care of herself right now, so it`s surprising how that all worked out.
Photo: This is where I`ve studied the last 2 months. Sometimes it`s neater than this, sometimes it`s a lot worse. The stuff in back belongs to the owner of the house, but she still hasn`t taken it all out. It`s sort of a storage room.
March 24, 2014
Wow, we`ve talked to lots of gringos today. The first one we saw in a Colombian pastry shop. He`s a member who has a home here Patagonia. The other was an English teacher who I found very intellectual. It was an interesting conversation. He said what really kept him from joining the church was that you can`t drink coffee. He said that there are so many Mormons who don`t drink coffee, but they do drink lots of Coca-Cola or lots of other junk food. President Uchtdorf and Elder Russel M. Nelson both talked about making healthy choices in October`s General Conference. Set the example. Your body is a temple. Care for it! That`s something I`ve been working on a lot in Chile.

Sorry... That was a rant when I`m really really short on time today.

The woman we’ve been teaching is getting baptized this Saturday :D God answered a prayer when we couldn`t find anyone to accompany us to the baptism interview at the church. We had been calling for like a half hour when we knelt down to pray. The phone rang before Elder Holt finished the prayer with a member who could accompany us. God hears prayers.

Love you all! Mom, the new pattern stuff looks great :D very professional :D I like the smart fox. A sister in the ward drew me Pokémon :D :D :D 

-Elder Connor Christopherson

March 17, 2014  (another email from Connor that I forgot to post last week)

I really love being a missionary right now. We have several people who are preparando to be baptized. I`m especially excited for one woman we’ve been teaching, who is scheduled for 29/3. We had a family home evening with her and a young newlywed couple and the wife gave an awesome testimony about repentance and obedience. (She also drew me an awesome picture of Eevee, Vaporeon, Flareon, and Jolteon.)

We`ve found tons of future and potential investigators and we`ve also been finding more less-active members. One who I didn`t really know well (my companion did most of the talking when we visited 2 months ago and I apparently wasn`t very focused) called us because her mom is in the hospital in Puerto Montt. We prayed and offered words of comfort and she said, "Si o si, tengo que ir a la iglesia este domingo" (No matter what, I need to go to church this Sunday).

I`m really a bit stressed because there Are a lot of people we need to teach this week and I`m not sure we`ll be able to get to all of them. Most people can only be visited after 7:00 (people get out of work really late in Chile and we can`t go in the houses if there isn`t a man in the house) so that just gives us a few hours every day to visit and teach those people who`ve asked us to visit. Even then, Elder Ballard when he visited said we`re not teaching enough people. I think I need to work on maximizing time when we`re with people. It can be so hard to focus on what we want to teach while still teaching people, not lessons. Those we teach like to talk and talk and talk, saying very little with a whole lot of words. I`m trying to avoid doing that myself as I teach.

Oh! Dad, could you send me my line of priesthood authority? I`ve never really seen it before (as far as I remember). I figured that would be important to have.

The mission is really humbling me. Every day I`m reminded of all the things that maybe I ought to be doing but I don`t always get around to doing, like writing in my journal, asking for references, calling people beforehand to confirm appointments. I try my very hardest to get everything done right, but in the end I fall very very short. I`m amazed by my companion, Elder Holt, and his ability to just get things done. If he wants something done, he does it, and I haven`t a clue how he does it all. I`m baffled. We balance each other out with our strengths and weaknesses.

Keep hastening the work! Be ready to teach because opportunities will come if you look for them or not.

Love you all!

Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: Anyone have a clue what this symbol means? Ç  It`s on the keyboard right where enter ought to be and I keep hitting it. çççççççÇçÇçÇÇÇÇççÇÇç

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Picking plums in a plum tree.
There are a lot of plums at the supermarket right now. Tis the season!

Remember when I said it was hot last week? Well everything just got cold in a day and now it´s just really cold. It´s sure a lot like Utah weather here. My clothes still serve me well. I think another t-shirt would be good, but I´ve got all the jeans I need or want. I didn´t buy any socks here yet, but the ones I´ve seen look like they´ll function. I just need to count how many socks I still have so I know how many to buy.

Ah! I got the keyboard with an obnoxiously sensitive s pace bar.

The new logo looks nice! How did you get the sheep image? Did you need to ask special rights to use it?

The girl we’ve been teaching is gonna get baptized :D :D :D :D :D Her mom has been an investigator for over 2 years but hasn´t been able to be baptized because she´s not married (law of chastity very important). Her less active “husband” (who she´s not married too) has already been through a divorce and is a bit scared to commit again, especially since marriage is very very unpopular in Chile right now.

The girl we’ve been teaching is 15 years old. She didn´t pay much attention to the missionaries before... or at least to the lessons. She´s nice and friendly and offers us juice, but she wasn´t really interested until her mom got more concerned about her friends, who haven’t been making the best decisions. She says she wants to have good friends, but you just don´t find them. We invited her to church and guess what—she liked it :D :D :D She´s become good friends with some of the jovenes (youth) at church.

I´m sad I wasn´t there when Elder Holt invited her to be baptized (intercambios--companion exchanges). Elder Holt said she was really excited. She first started with, "So... you mean to say that my other baptism was invalid? Okay. Wait! Does that mean I´ll get to be a Mormon?" I wasn´t there, but I think that´s what she said. In church the next day she went to me and whispered in my ear, "You´re going to give me the Spirit!" Yay! I get to confirm the Gift of the Holy Spirit on someone :D She´s so excited :D We just need to teach her the commandments and commit her to live them. She´ll be such a good example for her parents :D

Our other investigator who wants to be baptized on the same day (a single mom who´s trying to quit smoking and has a young son who can´t move or speak, who reminds me of Kelsi). She isn’t very educated (she can´t read), but she´s learning so much and is so happy to listen and act. We´ve already seen changes in her life (she told us she used to be scared at night but now she feels protected). She´s only been to church one time thus far, but we´re working on teaching her the choices that will lead her to baptism.

A mission is full of crazy experiences. This last Sunday, I was asked to direct the music, and just as the service started,  I was asked to give a talk, so I was pretty busy the whole meeting preparing and singing and speaking. I was pretty nervous and would have liked more time to prepare, but many people commented that they liked what I said. It´s funny how the Lord works; the night before I had been praying for more opportunities to teach the branch members. God answers prayers.

I love you all so much :D I love the examples that each one of you is for me. You each have more influence than you think.

I want to share a quick example. Every week, I print all the emails I get so I can read them later when I have more time. Recently, Sister Smith has been sending me Sister Kenzie Smith´s emails and I thought, "Wow these things are long... " However, I´ve found lots of bits I´ve been able to apply, especially today. She wrote about companionship study where she didn´t follow the Spirit as she might have and wasn´t prepared for a lesson in Chinese. That hit me hard because in my own personal study today I had been reading in the Liahona, even though I kept thinking that I needed to be reading Preach My Gospel at that moment. I did end up recognizing it and swapped to PMG, but I definitely could have done it earlier in the hour. Thanks :)

I chose to write about Sis. Kenzie Smith because I don´t really know her that well. If someone I don´t know very well can be such an influence to me without really intending to, you can do so too. You each have been powerful influences and I want you to keep at it! Live the Gospel and follow the Spirit! When something in the back of your head is nagging at you to do something you never thought you were going to do, and it´s something that edifies, DO IT WITHOUT DELAY! Watch what happens and tell me that wasn´t the Spirit. You won´t be able to. You´ll know it and your faith will become knowledge. Follow the Spirit.

Love you all :D

Elder Christopherson

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 3, 2014

Hi everyone!

Thanks to the Jensens for the Christmas card :D Yes, I have gotten to play piano... but just once because the big ward had a pianist and the rama doesn´t have a piano. The time I played was in Puerto Montt in a funeral.

Maia, Elder Holt says David Archuleta lived on the opposite side of Murray.

So many of you have been telling me about roadshow. I´m proud that Maia stuck through it even though she didn´t like it and I´m glad Max was so good with his lines :D

Mom mentioned that I´m probably sick of rain right now. I should probably say that it´s been really hot since the middle of January. For the most part, lots of heat and lots of sunscreen. Today was the first day of school for the year after summer vacation and we saw lots of youth in uniforms in centro today. (Every school has uniforms here.) I´ve been told that the winter will be especially cold because there have been lots of little earwig pincher bugs coming out (especially in our kitchen sink).

We had a zone conference. I liked it much more than the zone conferences in Puerto Montt. There we had 4 zones combined and we filled the chapel. In Coyhaique, we were in a classroom sitting in a circle. Much more personal that way with fewer people. Easier to converse. There was a senior couple of missionary doctors who spoke about preventing back, foot, and knee problems. President Rappleye was translating them the whole time.

Did I mention how that works? When there´s someone who needs to speak who doesn´t speak Spanish, like Elder Ballard, they say only a phrase at a time before the translator speaks, so the speaker has to pause after each phrase. I liked it this way because it gave more time for everything to sink in and you could think about each phrase and it´s weight.

The other day we gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to the sister of an investigator. We´re usually a bit conservative about giving copies of the Book of Mormon because we´re always short of those in Coyhaique, so maybe it was a surprise that we gave it to her, considering that the sister wasn't even an investigator yet. However, she was there with our next appointment. We were on splits and Elder Holt was with another Hermano and I was with José (a 16 year old recent convert who is awesome, went to EFY -- which they do have here -- and now he wants to be a missionary.). The sister of José, Maria, was already spending the day there after church so she was there when we arrived.

Long story short, there were a lot of people at the house and every single one of them has a very distinct background of the church. I was really planning on teaching one woman, our investigator, but as I was teaching the plan of Salvation, Patricia, the woman to whom we gave a Book of Mormon, asked a question. She asked why Maria and Jose are members of the church. The testimony Jose bore was particularly great.

Later, Patricia asked about what she'd read in the Book of Mormon. I was surprised to find that she'd read Jacob 5, the Allegory of the Olive Tree. I have always found Jacob 5 to be very difficult to understand (I get frustrated by the symbolism), but she already understood the original tree to be the Jews! Wow! She asked some very deep questions about the allegory.

Now, I know this was a really long complicated set up, but this is the part where you need to pay attention. I´ll be honest, I´ve understood about nothing about Jacob 5 up until a week ago, when I arrived there in my chapter to chapter Book of Mormon studies. Elder Holt had a guide to Jacob 5 that helped me understand it, and I´ve gotten to really appreciate it. I never could have known that just a week later I´d be confronted with an investigator who had read it and had a very good question. I know that God prepared me. I had to use all my knowledge of the first 3 lessons to have a satisfactory answer. I know that wasn´t just me. The spirit helped me. Even though the 9 people in this room all had very different backgrounds, I think every one of them felt it.
I know that Christ is our Savior in a perfect plan of God which allows every one of us to learn and grow and choose personally if we want to follow Christ or not. It is a perfect plan and it is a loving plan. I testify that this is true. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know it and God knows it and I cannot deny it.

Love you all.
-Elder Connor Christopherson

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Beautiful Coyhaique!
(photos by Connor's companion, Elder Holt)
Wow! Another great week :D
The four missionaries in our branch climbed into a member´s cherry tree for an hour and we picked a lot of cherries. It was really relaxing just sitting in the tree. It´s amazing how many of those little berries can hide among the leaves. Missionary work is like that too. There are lots and lots of people who are prepared. We just got to keep looking, and before we know it, we found a few more right above our heads.

My companion, Elder Holt, is just as awesome as usual. A bishop from Punta Arenas, Bishop Carasco, is on vacation here, and he accompanied us to teach the lady we met a few weeks ago. She´s been struggling to quit smoking, and we haven´t been able to visit her much because it´s really hard to get members to visit with us. We did a special fast with her, along with Bishop Carasco, so she would have the strength to quit. I hope she´s doing well. We´ll probably pass by tomorrow.

This past Friday Elder M Russell Ballard (one of the 12 apostles) and President Rasband spoke to the Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the whole South America South area (which includes Paraguay, Uraguay, Argentina, and Chile). There are a lot of inactive members in the area.
President Rasband spoke about President Monson´s declaration that the Lord is hastening his work. President Monson said that this would be possible through a variety of means. President Rasband said one of these means is technology. Cell phones aren´t just for calling people, it is a powerful tool for spreading the gospel. He had everyone hold their cell phones up—which are just as nice here as they are in the USA. People in Chile work very long hours just to provide for their families. President Rasband expressed that the leaders are aware of this. That´s why technology is so amazing! It´s so convenient!
President Rasband told us he has over 700 friends on Facebook who are returned missionaries from the mission in which he served as mission president. He made sure to friend every one of them. Although he´s very busy as a member of the Presidency of the 70, it´s so easy to keep in touch, and if a returned missionary posts something inappropriate, guess who´s going to respond—President Rasband!

He told us about people he was able to rescue through Facebook and gave examples on how we can do the same through simple texts such as "Brother Anderson, this is Brother Smith. How are you? We missed you in church. We have two great new missionaries in the ward. I´d love to present them to you. How does 7 o´clock this Tuesday sound?" Every home teacher and priesthood leader is responsible to be shepherds for the Lord´s sheep. That, along with reading Jacob 5 this week (and actually understanding a bit), made me so excited to be a part of this work at this time. I love being a missionary right now.

Elder Ballard´s talk was incredible! Basically, we´re all going to die, so repent. The angels on the other side of the veil are just as hastened in missionary work as we ought to be. We need to be doing everything we can, also praying to the Lord for help. Sometimes the answer is not so obvious because it seems out of our comfort zone. At the start of this transfer, I definitely felt uncomfortable as we pushed to talk to 10 new people each day and invite them to come unto Christ. However, we´re seeing the fruits. We´ve had great lessons with people who we would have never ever met if we were not opening our mouths. This is one of the most incredible times in the history of the Earth. The Lord has prepared ways for YOU to rescue and invite, teaching of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don´t miss it!

I´m over time now, but know that I love all of you :D

-Elder Christopherson