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