Friday, August 29, 2014

Note: There haven't been any photos in a long time because Connor lost his camera, and the new camera we sent him hasn't arrived, perhaps stolen?

Hola, todos.

Another great week :D Our numbers are still quite dreadful, but we´re finding people that look like they can be solid investigators :D One was an old investigator from the other part of Panguipulli named Pablo. He´s really receptive :D He said that two missionaries came and helped him once after a bike crash when he was 12 (10 years ago) and since them he´s never rejected letting the missionaries in his house. I´m surprised he hasn´t been baptized yet. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted the date. I think his biggest trials will be getting to church and quitting smoking.

You know you have a great companion when he helps us get out of lessons on time. A bad habit in the mission is to stay in and converse about lots of stuff (because Chileans are rather talkative). We need to focus on the things that are most important as we visit so the spirit is not diluted.

Elder Strate is great. He's very talkative. He loves to tell stories about before the mission and he loves talking about guns and hunting (he´s considering joining the military and tells me lots about it). It´s really nice for my stress just listening.

As y´all know, the last transfer was pretty tough, and a lot of the stress from that has carried over. I´m learning how it really helps to simplify the situation. Just focus on the next thing that needs to be done and love doing that thing. Tommy´s always been a really great example to me of that. He loves serving the Lord and as a result is very happy. There´s no internal fight because he´s already given up :D He´s striving to be consecrated (sorry to put you on a pedestal, pal. Psshh. I just called you "pal." I´m pretty sure I´ve never called you "pal" in my life. It´s a silly word. "PAL!")

The branch is struggling right now. Attendance has been dropping every week and it´s less than half of what it was when I got here. Pray for Panguipulli :D They´re branch conference comes up in a few weeks and that should help a lot (here, branch conference is like a weeklong thing where they have an activity every day).

Thanks for all the wonderful emails :D Keep reading the scriptures every day. I started reading the Book of Mormon every day as part of a district goal and it sure does point man to God better than any other book. Nephi was so solid in the face of doubt. It really does work out when we just give up our own desires and serve the Lord. As we do, our desires become more in sync with those of the Lord and we end up enjoying what we do instead of looking to do what we enjoy (if that makes sense).

Love you all :D

Oh! and Happy birthday, Max :D
Oh! and one of the packages arrived. It had Reeses, socks, jeans, and hot chocolate. Thanks :D Elder Strate´s package was robbed, so we´ll see if the second package arrives.

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Saturday, August 23, 2014

¡Halo! (That´s what you shout at people´s houses when you want them to come out)

 Beloved family, friends, and people who read my blog without having met me before -- to you I say, "Hola."

So, this week had its ups and downs, like every week. The two other missionaries who were living with us just had a sobrecambio (a tansfer that doesn´t happen during the normal time for transfers). I´ll miss them both, especially Elder Gomez, who´s from El Salvador and who listened to Zelda music like I do (it made my day when I left the shower one morning and recognized "Hidden Village" from Twilight Princess playing on Elder Gomez´s speakers).

We only found out about the sobrecambio on Monday, and they had to leave on Tuesday, so they only had a few hours to walk with us and show us the new part of our sector. Now, all of Panguipulli is ours, which means there are a lot more people to teach. You´d think that would mean we´d teach more, but our numbers have been dreadful this week (except for number of street contacts, in which we got 107, a personal high :D ) We´ve had way more appointments than usual, but most of them fall. We´re planning stuff we´ll do so the appointments don´t fall through.

Someone asked why I´ve been traveling so much. Our mission has a few small cities and several towns and a whole bunch of rural countryside in between. Each town only has about 2-4 missionaries, so most missionaries have to travel to get to their zone meetings or even district meetings. We also have to go to the cities (like Valdivia) to do legal stuff so we don´t get kicked out of Chile. I´m in the process of getting my 2nd visa and my second carnett.

Dad, I noticed that you always include stuff about your bike races in your emails, but I have yet to comment. Sorry! I want you to know I´m proud of you for your diligence, and I´m grateful that my dad has such a healthy hobby. It´s impressive how far you go on bike every week. I´m also grateful that you love to garden, and I apologize that we´re often less than eager to help. I think you´ve had this ideal in your mind of kids who love being athletic like you and who are really eager to help in the garden. It hasn´t been quite that way. I´ll definitely be different when I get back. Most importantly, I´m grateful for all you do in your callings and home teaching assignments.

Mom, thanks for your supportive emails every week. Thanks for working so hard in the ward and for being so diligent in your calling. Thanks for being so observant and for always looking for ways to edify. You always had a lot of trust in me and I´m grateful for that.

Maia, YOU´RE GOING TO COLLEGE AND YOU HAVN´T WRITTEN ANYTHING ABOUT THAT. Well... you´ve written about selecting classes and everything, but now you´re almost there. I don´t know. If it were me, I´d be kinda freaking out. I didn´t seep at all the night before going to BYU. Oh, and you´re a legal adult, so you can´t hit people without going to jail (or something like that). Bwahahahaha! Oh! And you have your patriarchal blessing. Congrats :D Are you from Ephraim (no idea how that´s spelled)? Miss you lots.

Max, when your shadow starts getting bigger and rounder, RUN!!!!! When you hear moaning, you should play the sun song. You also must construct additional pylons. But you already knew that. Don´t do anything you wouldn´t want your parents to know about.

Kelsi, you can´t read or understand, but hey, thanks for being a great sister. Because of you, we have a one-story house with a big family room, so we spent more time together as a family instead of cooped up in our individual rooms upstairs. I´m excited to really get to know you in the next life.

I was going to write about Tommy, too, but I´m all out of time.

Love you all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Sunday, August 17, 2014

“They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard – guard, guard, guard guard.” Ha ha! You know you have a great companion when he knows that and several other silly Youtube videos.

Oh, I said that my new companion, Elder Strate, is from Pleasant Valley in my last email. It´s actually called Mt. Pleasant. He loves hunting and fishing. He´s a little quieter, and he speaks a little too much English (he answers in English sometimes to people who speak zero English.) He´s got a really good heart. He looks out for others and is not argumentative.
We had a companionship inventory and he said the same thing my mom´s been telling me the last several weeks... I beat myself up over everything. It´s true. Well, I make a LOT of mistakes and it´s kinda a lot of responsibility we have—finding the people the Lord´s prepared, being examples, not being late to appointments, or forgetting things we need to do (which happens about every day).

We had a zone conference in Villarric. President Obeso so faithful. The spirit just emanates from him. We´re basically doing everything wrong, so there´s a lot to improve :D

Sister Obeso talked a lot about our health. We´re lot living the spirit of the Word of Wisdom if we don´t exercise every morning and eat unhealthily. She does not want to see tired, sick missionaries, but happy, energized ones.

President Obeso tells us, with calm, bold faith, that we can have 100 baptisms a month as a mission right now. When Elder Ballard came in February, he said that we needed to open our mouths and talk with everyone so we could teach more people. I definitely contacted more after the conference than before (before we contacted like 15 with lots of knocked doors a week), but I never reached the prescribed 70 street contacts in a week. Well, not being obedient by not having contacted 70 a week is having it´s to-be-expected lack of results, and I´m understanding more how faith and obedience work (more on that in a moment). President Obeso told us that that it´s not 70 contacts per companionship, it´s 70 per companion, so 140 a week for companionship. If we do that, we´ll teach more. 

Later in the week, I had a meeting with the zone leaders that taught me something interesting about the Lords´ work. The standard of the mission is about 10 lessons with a member present a week, but the usual is much less than that. President Obeso surprised us by changing the standard to 40 lessons with a member present a week (about 5 or 6 lessons a day, which is unheard of).
When the zone leaders told us this I was really doubtful. The zone leaders asked us one by one if we´d do this, and everyone said yes, but I didn´t respond. I said I could not say I could accomplish 40 lessons a week right now because I´ve been stressing out just to have a few lessons with a member present. I didn´t have the faith, and I couldn´t just say I´d do it just for the sake of saying I´d do it. I wanted to know that I would actually do it.

I thought about what I´d need to do. When people become converted to the gospel, they do it as a response to knowing and feeling that the church is true. They do it because they have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon to receive an answer from the Holy Ghost. I can look at the evidence that the church is true and know that it´s true intellectually, but it will NEVER change me unless I FEEL it. I know that it´s possible to contact that many people in a week, but I may not feel that it will be effective, I may feel that I will cause more damage than good, and I may feel that I waste my time that I could use for other, better things. I can know that I can do it without believing that I will.

Conversion takes more than knowing. That´s why Laman and Lemnuel were not converted even after having seen angels and miracles.

What makes the difference? One must study it out in their mind and ask God, our Heavenly Father. It´s the fundamental promise of the Message of the Restoration. It´s the great plead of the prophet Moroni.

I see the goal... well, not really a goal but a standard . . . that we should speak with everyone and we should invite 140 people through contacting every week. I sincerely know that I can, but I felt like it wouldn´t result. I realized that not one person in my district will achieve this unless they are converted to it through study and prayer.
That´s what we´ve been working on this week. We have talked with so many more people that the Lord has trusted us with, I have been praying to God to ask if this is what the Lord wants, and I have been feeling the Spirit testify to me that we really can, should, and will. My faith has grown, and as we contact more, we will find more. If we find more, we will teach more. If we teach more, we will baptize more people who are truly converted.

This is the only true and living church of Jesus Christ on the face of the Earth. It is led by Him through inspired prophets and apostles. Nothing in this church works without seeking, receiving, and heeding revelation. The Spirit will testify of the truth and you will see the hand of the Lord in your own life.

I love you all! I actually had a bunch more to say, but I wrote it down so I´ll tell y├íll next week :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ok, lots and lots to say.

My new companion is named Elder Strate. He´s from... aw... what was it called. I think it´s called Mount Pleasant, Utah. It´s just a little north of Manti. I´m in Valdivia today with Elder Gomez so I can´t ask Elder Strate (who´s in Panguipulli).

Oh! Dad asked the other week about my finger. I got a 2nd degree burn when I tried putting firewood in our stove. First time that´s happened to me in the mission. 

I´ve done a lot of traveling this week. From Panguipulli to Valdivia to Osorno to Panguipulli to Lanco to Panguipulli to Valdivia, and I´ll be heading back to Panguipulli in a few minutes. That list above totals about 14.5 hours in buses. It looks like I´ll continue traveling a lot because I now have to travel to Lanco every week for district leader meeting and I´ve got to renew my visa and carnett in Valdivia.

My last companionship was definitely one of those "growing opportunities." I´m glad I had it because I learned a lot, but I don´t want to have a transfer like that again.

We had a cool meeting with President Obeso to capacitate the new trainers. Lots of the new trainers are missionaries from my group (who arrived at the same time to the mission). It gave me a lot more animo and confidence.

Ok, I just got cut time so I´m going to speed.

Maia, when you said secret tunnel in the subject line, I thought you were referring to Nacho Libre. I thought it was out of the ordinary that you´d quote Nacho Libre. "... and diiiiiiiieeeeeeeee"

Tommy, your letter was especially good for me today. You mentioned how one elder said he´ll miss knocking doors at 5 o´clock. I saw several elders end their missions this week and some of them didn´t have the same spirit. It was sad to me and your email helped a lot :)

Mom, you could send my Grandpa´s life story to me and I´d be permitted to read it, and I really want to, but I honestly think  I won´t have much time to read it. If you send it, I´ll probably read it very slowly, like a few pages a month.

I love the work. The mission is killing my pride (it´s painful) but I hope I get to be helpful through it all :) That´s the best part.

I´m sorry I had to rush at the end. So much more I didn´t get to say!

Love you all!

-Elder Christopherson

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Note from Mom:  I'm posting 3 emails at once. My computer was broken, so I got a little behind.

July 28, 2014

As it turns out, I wasn´t supposed to Skype you (oops). (Note from Mom: We had an unexpected 5-minute Skype with Connor the day before, after he lost his wallet.) I called the assistants when the financer didn´t answer his phone, and he said we could call. What he meant, and what I misunderstood, is that Elder Biggs was supposed to call, not me. The financer, the assistant, and President Obeso all called me individually to tell me I wasn´t supposed to call you.

For those of you wondering what I´m talking about, I lost my wallet yesterday. It had lots of important stuff inside, including my personal debit card, the debit card of the mission, my Chilean identification (a HUGE pain to replace), my California driver’s license, and my temple recommend. I thought I had permission to call my family, but Elder Biggs (part of a senior companionship) said that his phone doesn´t reach the United States, so I called with Skype (because my family needed to block the debit card before losing all my savings).

Today, we went to the caribineros—Chilean police. (Speaking of which, you ought to look up photos of caribineros online. They look really military and they make a lot of money.) My wallet was there, but the debit cards and money was not there. I think there were 6000 Chilean pesos and $100 US dollars inside :(

Starting this week, I´m going to train a new gringo named Elder Strait (Ithought it was Elder Strike, which would have been a much cooler name, but I suppose Elder Strait will have to do). We´ll see how it goes.

-Elder Connor Christopherson

* * * * * *

July 21, 2014

Maia, I heard you had a funnel cake. Those are SO yummy :D The usually sold them at our marching band competitions :) Chile has something similar called calzones rotos, but the funnel cakes are bigger and better :D

LaRee, I talked with a librarian this week and we talked about family history. She says that it´s helped a lot looking for people on Facebook and asking if they have the same ancestor. You´re able to send messages to people even if you´re not "friends."

The man we’ve been teaching is doing really well :D He´s really humble. In Sunday school, I think he´s the only one who studies the material before the class, so he gets so excited and you can tell it´s just revelation after revelation with him.

We´ve been studying the Old Testament, which has a lot of stories that you don´t really hear that often but that are really awesome. Elijah called down many miracles. I especially like the story when he challenges the priests of Baal to call down fire from their false god. It´s epic! I wish we could do stuff like that in the mission but the world´s a little different now. Back then miracles were more well-known and common, like in the New Testament when there´s a pool which an angel touched every once in a while and the first person to enter the water after the angel touched would get healed. If something like that happened today, it would be all over YouTube. The question in that day wasn`t if there was a god, the question was who was this god and what did he expect of us. They already knew that manna would fall from the sky and that they were being guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. What they doubted is who to worship. It`s funny how the trials are different in different time periods.

I´m learning so much about the importance of expressing love for one another. You can´t just love people, you have to let your love show. I´ve been bad at that lately.

We´ve done a lot of service this week outside of Panguipulli (gui is pronounced "gee" where the g is like the g in "goat." Two l´s together in spanish is like a" y" in English (unless you´re from Argentina in which case you pronounce it like "sh.") There´s a really nice family that has a lot of space to clear up of fallen trees and long thorny vines. The thorny vines (called Mura) cut me a lot and I look like I got in a fight with a cat. Part of the family is a young couple. He was telling stories from his mission and realized I had heard several of these stories before. I think he served in the same mission as Brett Brushke (Paraguay) with the same mission president.

I love you all very much :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

* * * * * *

July 14, 2014
Well, another hard week, but that`s how one grows. Is it bad if I say I have a hard week? People tell me I shouldn´t, but I´ve got to contrast the many wonderful weeks I`ve had with some tough ones, right?

I´m learning this week so much about the importance of prayer.... like, really, it´s something I need to do more frequently in my head before making decisions because it helps so much. I´ve been painfully humbled and I´m understanding more and more of my own dependence in our Heavenly Father. I want to improve how meaningful my prayers are by asking questions, specific questions, and by devoting more of my prayers in gratitude. Before I was doing about 50% 50% between thanks and asking for blessings (for me or others). I´m trying to improve.

It was hard to find Rolando this week. We kept showing up to his house to find no one there, then on Friday we found him and we ate turkey neck. It`s a bit boney, but it was yummy too. We sang lots of hymns together. I love Rolando! He is so easy to make laugh and he´s very humble in the way he teaches (sometimes he accompanies us in lessons).

We also got to attend a mission call opening of a guy named Felipe. He lives about 15-20 minutes from Panguipulli in bus and was baptized a little over a year ago. He is always willing to put other plans aside to accompany us as we teach. There were a lot of people in their house for the opening, several of them who were not members. It ended up being like a devotional, with prayers, hymns, and several testimonies (they asked all the missionaries and returned missionaries to bear their testimonies). I used the opportunity to teach about the Restoration and I bore my testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really did call Joseph Smith to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness. It was really cool :D Felipe was called to serve in Peru, but I don`t remember the name of the city.

Love you all, :D

-Elder Christopherson