Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 23, 2014

Where do I start? I`ll start with before the transfer. Our last week-and-a-half in Colón felt like jumping out of an airplane crash. We had very few appointments, and the ones we had fell through. We had one family of investigators tell us never to come back, along with a family of less-active members who also told us to never come back. The ward members are really sad that they`re taking the elders out.

A recent convert, Manuel, who isn`t well known by the ward because he only attends sacrament meeting, had to go to the intensive care unit over the weekend because water was getting around his heart (he already has to go to the hospital 12 hours a week for dialysis). There was a big fire in our sector on our last day there. We had a little extra time before an appointment, so we passed by that direction. As it turns out, the fire was a house burning down... Manuel´s house. There were tons of firefighters, policemen, and spectators. Right in the middle of it was Manuel and his mom and his aunt (it`s his aunt`s house). It was totally black inside of the house. Needless to say, his week was a bit rough. And I thought OUR week was difficult.

My new companion is Elder Petrovelli. He`s from Argentina and it shows in his accent. They pronounce their "y" like a long "sh". (ie: How shoo doin´? Shesterday I saw shoo shelling at shour pet shak.) Something like that. He thinks a lot differently than I do. He acts and works differently too. Our strengths and weaknesses are very different. He didn`t do too well in school, but is really good at soccer (fútbol) and was paid to play in Argentina. The World Cup is absolutely huge for him. He`s really up front about things. He asks people right away if they`re going to come to church (which is much more effective than I`d think) and he gets along well with people. I`m learning a ton from him. It`s a good way to analyze the way I do things in comparison and really see why I do certain things as opposed to another. I´ll change that which doesn`t have a good reason.

And our investigator with a baptismal date just almost kissed me. She`s twelve. She just saw us in the internet café and when she shook my hand she started moving in close, but then noticed that I wasn`t, so she backed and stayed composed. That`s very normal in Chilean culture to kiss friends in the cheek (women and women, men and women, but not men and men). It`s always awkward explaining to people that we missionaries can´t. Several of them get offended. Just one of those things.

I love my new town, Panguipulli! The branch is absolutely awesome and I`m now part of the branch choir. We go from house to house, family to family, and almost none of our appointments or plans fall through. It`s very different from working in Puerto Varas.

I`m out of time and I still have a ton I want to say. I love reading all your emails. I absolutely HAVE to talk about a guy named Rolando next week. Pray that he finds a job. I love that guy.

Tommy, I'll try my very best not to stab myself with utensils, but I can't make any promises.
I love you all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Saturday, June 21, 2014

 Connor's new home, Panguipulli, a picturesque tourist town on a lake.

 Panguipulli, Chile

Happy Father`s Day and Happy Birthday, Maia, and congratulations on graduating high school!

Ha ha ha! The photo of you two (Mom and Dad) at the bike race is funny. You look like you`re from different worlds.

Lots of stuff to say and I have less time than usual to say it.

¡CAMBIOS! I`m leaving Puerto Varas, and Elder Dennis is to. They took out the elders so the hermanas are now in charge of the whole ward. The members are all pretty bummed that they`re losing missionaries. A lot of them are taking it as a sort of punishment, but there are fewer missionaries entering the mission than leaving, so they needed to close some sectors. The hermanas will have a whole lot more work to do, and they`ll get to teach a lot more.

Puerto Varas has been tough in that we didn`t teach many investigators, and not one ended up coming to church. We showed up to a lot of appointments just to find empty houses and several addresses that don`t exist. The members are strong in testimony, but everyone in southern Chile works really long hours and we`ve found it difficult to work with them (which was our goal for the transfer). Even our lider misional (ward mission leader) only had correlación (I have no idea what that`s called in English) a few times, when it should be weekly. I hope that the hermanas get to teach more, now that the size of their sector has doubled. Missionary work has changed in every part of the world because the world is more wicked and there are a lot more distractions. It CANNOT work without good member/missionary coordination.

Oh! I was going to say where I`m going. I`m going to a place called Paguipulli (I think that`s how it`s spelled). People tell me it`s a pretty lake town like Puerto Varas. They say it`s very beautiful and very tranquillo (which is kinda like calm, relaxed, or tranquil).

Mundial started this week! We got permission to watch the first 3 games of Chile because it´s more productive inviting investigators to watch the game with us than to try teaching people who want to watch fútbol (soccer). Chile won against Australia 3-1. YAY! During a fun game we had a fun discussion with some of the Chileans who wanted it to be very clear to us that America does not mean the United States. America is North, South, and Central America. The United States is just the United States. It bugs the rest of America that we call ourselves Americans  instead of United Statesians. (In spanish, the word for someone from the United States is estadounidence, which would translate to something like Unitedstatesian). Just interesting.

I told a little gnome looking man he was a hypocrite the other day. I never thought I`d do that to someone in the street, but I realized that some people just can`t understand unless their bubble gets burst. He specifically told us that everyone should be a certain way, and then told us exactly why he wasn`t doing those things. I understand better why Christ was sometimes so harsh to the Pharisees and Sadducees. It`s why Abinadi had to be so harsh with the priests of Noah. I think Alma never would have considered that what he was doing was wrong unless he was confronted with a prophet like that. Alma had been living in a culture of wickedness for so long, he was probably numb to it. He needed a wakeup call. The people with real intent will be grateful and will change. Interesting lesson of the week.

I love you all!

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, June 15, 2014

You've got to be careful with forks.
Oh, goodness. I didn`t shave that morning.
During lunch, I tried to dramatically slam my face on the table to show frustration, but my hand hit the fork, which turned on it´s fulcrum and the long end pointed right at my eye. I`m glad I was wearing glasses or I think I would have really lost an eye. When everyone told me it was bleeding, the obvious first thing to do was leave the mamita`s house to get my camera and take pictures. The long end of the fork wasn`t sharp, so I think the bleeding was just the pressure if the metal pressing against my skull that caused the bleeding. It`s not one puncture, it`s kinda several tears that line up with the fold marks. Just something to make my mom feel like I`m safe and secure in Chile :D Love you and hope this made you laugh :D

So, there`s a family in our ward, the Cortez family, who were the first people baptized in Puerto Varas. Every one of them is really strong in the church. One of them owns a frutaría (a place where they sell fruit). He`s basically consecrated to the church and has such a happy family. We showed the agenda missional to them and they loved it and at the end of the lesson, they all put their hands together and said "Uno, dos, tres, EXITO!!!" Which means "One, two, three, SUCCESS!!!" they put all their hands up at the end. They`re such a united happy family! Shows what happens when you live the gospel correctly.

This same hermano always gives us free food. I feel like I`m stealing, but he always wants us to go in and take what we want. That`s where we do half of our grocery shopping.

The other week, we grabbed a carton of thirty eggs. We still had about two hours before we needed to get back to the house, so I put them in my backpack (because it`s huge and always has extra space :) We almost got back to the house late because we had an awesome lesson with Jesús and María José, but in my rush I cracked a few eggs. When we opened my backpack, we found lots of egg inside and I had to throw away some of my now destroyed books. Thankfully, my book covers for my scriptures protected the most important stuff. In total, seven eggs broke in my backpack. We ended up cleaning my backpack by filling it with water and swishing it around several times. It`s kinda cool filling up a backpack without it getting wet on the outside (because it’s waterproof). After we had it dry off by the fireplace.

Thanks for the hump day package :D We ate several of the Reeses in our last district meeting. I`ve got to ask President Rappleye permission to read the book, but I`m pretty sure that will work fine.

When I saw the gloves you sent, I thought, "Wow, these won’t help me at all! Don`t my parents know that it`s wet here and that I can`t use these absorbent gloves, even if they look very warm? I`m grateful that my parents love me so much and send me stuff, but this won`t help me." The other missionaries commented similarly and we laughed. It took 2 days for me to notice the little tag that said waterproof. I didn`t really believe it, so I took it to the sink. I was so amazed that I could let lots of water run on the glove and it didn`t get wet inside! It took a while to dry the outsides off after, but my hands will stay dry inside. Thanks a bunch, Mom :) Sorry I doubted ;)

You asked about Elder Dennis. He`s from Manti. He`s very smart and way into all sorts of science and technology. He`s never complains and is always finding ways to serve (he makes me grilled cheese sandwiches :) We get along well. I`d be such a disaster if I didn`t have an organized companion like Elder Dennis in my first transfer as a district leader. We`ve established that within 10 years iPhones and iPads will be replaced by glasses that produce a 3d image to work with.

I love the work. I love being a missionary.

Oh! One more thing. I asked the other week about preach my gospel. I said specifically to everyone: “I want to hear about what you’re learning in Preach My Gospel and how you have applied it. :D” No one`s answered my request :/ Someone told me that they were indeed reading Preach my Gospel, but that`s not what I asked. 1) What are you learning? 2) How are you applying what you are learning? Pray that the Spirit guides you and pray to know who you can invite. "The field is white, all ready to harvest."

I love you all so much :D Thanks for the many emails :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Connor in Puerto Varas
This Thursday marks 1 year since I was set apart as a missionary! I think I get back near the end of May 2015, so I think I`ve already passed my halfway point. You can`t show that too much, because when people hear that you have more than a year in the mission, they think that you`re going to get "trunky" (which is a term all the Chilean members know).

This week was so rainy and windy! 

Hermana Paxman and Segura continue being superstars. They have awesome investigators and their converts stay converted. They`re ward has a lot of leadership problems right now, so that`s a huge accomplishment that their retention is so good. They`re really obedient and they`re always thinking of creative ways to serve. Honestly, sometimes I feel so below my potential when I see their example. I try to improve.

Colón has been dry on investigators, but we`ve done a lot of work to find people. We contacted a lot more people in the street than usual and were surprised to have some really great conversations. We set about 5 appointments for Saturday but every single one of them fell through. At that point, every appointment that we set all week had fallen through. It was a bit discouraging, but then Sunday went fantastically. We taught some wonderful less active members and we had an appointment with people we found on the street and the appointment didn`t fall through! They`re a young family of 4 and they were receptive and actually listened (typically the people we teach talk way too much and try to teach us rather than hear the message). They`re in a tough situation and have to move this week. They still don`t know where they`re going to move to, but they can`t pay in their current house.

There was an activity on Friday (Viernes Divertido) but not very many people showed up. As it turned out, Chile played against Egypt that night. We cancelled the activity and we were the last to leave. As we were locking the gate (at about 7:23pm), 3 youth came and asked if they came too late. One of them wasn`t a member and it was really sad that we had to tell them that the activity was cancelled. Next week, we`re going to start the activity at 7:00 even if no one shows up, just in case.

We got confronted by a dog that really tried to attack us. That was really surprising because usually they just yap and then run away the moment you pretend to pick up a rock. This German shepherd came at us behind a truck, and I could see it sneaking it`s way to get close to us. The moment the dog noticed that I noticed, he sprinted for us, so I made myself look big and prepared to kick it if it got closer. It was kinda really intense. We backed up and thankfully nothing bad happened. Just a little experience of many many many experiences that we have during our weeks.

One last cool experience.  I didn`t bring rain pants for proselyting because I thought it looked pretty clear that day. We were on the other side of our sector when it started raining. I really didn`t want to have to go back to the house just to get rain pants. It would waste so much time and I wanted to use every moment to find people, even though the chances of finding someone was very slim for that hour. We prayed that the rain would stop so we could work, unless it was some kind of lesson that I needed to be more prepared with my rain pants. Almost immediately, the sun came out. We turned the corner and there was one of the clearest rainbows I`d ever seen. I remembered the covenant that the rainbow symbolizes. It didn`t rain again for the next 5 hours. It started raining again just after we arrived to our house. Independent of this experience, I know that God answers prayers. Sometimes it`s something obvious, and sometimes not, but we should seek diligently for the answers to our sincere and humble prayers. As we seek the answers to our humble prayers, we will see the hand of the Lord more plainly in our lives.

Love you all :D
Elder Connor Christopherson

Sorry I haven`t sent many photos. I might be able to send one or two in a few minutes.