Monday, April 27, 2015

So, last Wednesday, I was walking with my companion, y´know, doing missionary stuff, and I noticed (over the top of some buildings) the top of a cloud that was very textured and pretty. We stood on a bench to get a better look. It was then that I realized that this was no ordinary cloud. VOLCANO!!!!

Connor is 50 miles north of the volcano. (This is online photo.)

Photo we found online - this is Connor's last area, Puerto Varas, buried in ash.

I we started asking people on the street, who told us that it was Volcán Calbuco (which I´ve lived close to in Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt) We went to a good look out point, where we could see the whole thing. WOW! It was gorgeous! Absolutely enourmous! I was amazed how tall it was knowing how far we are from it (50 miles north). Lots and lots of ashes blowing toward Argentina. We started a conversation with a man taking photos, and we noted that he was from Argentina, so he was a little bitter that the ashes were going that way..We talked to him a bit about the gospel, he said he´s scientific and that his wife´s a pentecostal (talk about polar opposites)

Anyway, I kinda got distracted from the main topic. The volcano! Everyone was gathering water because the city was going to shut the water down and verify if it was contaminated, but in the end, we havn´t been touched by ashes. It's all going east. However, all the missionaries in Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas (my last area) were evacuated. I haven´t a clue where they are, but they´re not in Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas. I imagine google has better photos than anything I have. The part with lava and fire happened at about 2am, so we didn´t see any of that (but members showed us photos).

The same volcano when Connor hiked there in February (before it erupted).

Hey everyone, if you´re reading this, you´re invited to my homecoming sacrament meeting which is Sunday, May 24 at 11:00. It will also be the homecoming of Elder Tommy Webber :)

I´m constantly frustrated when I feel like I try to get everything done right, and I fail fantastically as I try to make it all work, but I realized more this week how we really can´t do this alone. The work works, even when missionaries fail, because of Jesus Christ. He heals us both spiritually and phisically, and we can follow Him by keeping his commandments. He provides what we need.

Just this Saturday, we had a appointment with a less active family. I had taught them one other time like 3 months ago, and the lesson wasn´t fantastic, so I wasn´t sure that this visit was going to have much results. We got there and we tried showing a video on their TV, but it didn't work, so we tried the DVD player with another video, but that didn´t work either. They tried youTube, but that also didn´t work. Clearly, the Lord did NOT want us to show a video. We read about the iron rod and the tree of life. We involved their kids and it ended up being a really spiritual lesson. We invited them to pray together, and the wife was especially committed to do it. When we left, she asked us when the church meetings were. We told her, but I didn't believe that she would actually come, and that she was just asking so she felt like she was more receptive (which a lot of people do, because they love having the missionaries over, but don´t want to commit, but they want to look like they´re going to commit so that the missionaries keep coming). Imagine, then, my suprize and joy when I saw the mom and her 2 kids come to sacrament meeting and they stayed all 3 hours :D As I said at the begining of this enourmous paragraph, the Lord provides :) I´m really excited about them. We´re going to pass by in a few days.

Love y´all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

 April 20, 2015

Phew... I feel really sleepy right now. We´ve been getting up earlier some days to go running and I´ve gotten to bed late a few times due to district leader duties (lots and lots of time calling the district and the zone leaders).

I have lots of photos to share, and I´m actually in the good cyber today, but I forgot my camera in the house :p I´d normally go back, but when your with a companion, every little trip like that takes time from your companion as well and I don´t want to do that.

I bought a new watch today. This is my third watch. I got a nice one for my 19th birthday, and that broke (I gave it to a guy who repairs watches, but he said there´s a piece that snapped and it´s not fixable without a replacement for that exact part). Then I bought one a few months ago. That broke too. This one´s a lot lighter, so I think it wouldn´t take lots of damage in a fall.

There´s an old evangelico guy (like, evangelical) in a wheelchair, named Carlos, that wanted me to say "hi" to you from him.

A nice family we teach about once a week gave us cestañas, which I think in English are "chestnuts." They grow on trees in big spikey pods that have 2-5 chestnuts in each pod. They take the nuts out of the pod, boil them, and then you cut them with a knife to eat the part inside. It´s really yummy and it´s the type of food that´d be nice to eat while watching a movie, but they´re also very tedious to prepare and eat.

Juan Carlos didn´t really understand the plan we gave him, so we retaught it and now he gets it and is more committed. He stayed true to the plan for two and a half days, but then he fell again.

This morning I got really frustrated, because I feel like I´m recieving very high expectations from all sides, and I sometimes feel that it´s impossible to do what I´m asked to do. President Packer once said that something similar happened to him when he was called as an apostle. He learned that he wasn´t just going to be brought to the edge of his abilities, but he would need to step out of the light of his own knowledge and into the unknown. By taking the step of faith, the unknown became illuminated, and he was changed by the experience. The mission has tested me physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and maby a few other -ally words as well.

But God is perfectly loving, and perfectly merciful. He knows what he´s doing when He puts us in trials and He knows what´s going to happen from the beginning. We´re left between trusting Him or trusting nothing. Trusting nothing can´t get anyone anywhere, so I choose to trust Him. Sometimes it´s hard to hear His voice, or we feel like He gives just a little less than what we expect to meet the increasing darkness, but He knows perfectly what we need to make it through. The iron rod is the only solid thing in our sight. The rest is darkness. The iron rod does not fail. The choice is clear, and we can step forward in faith.

I just went overtime, and I didn´t have time tor revise what I wrote, but I love you all :D

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Elder Alder's awesome mom sent fun PJs.

April 13, 2015

Aw. My watch broke last week and I was going to buy one downtown today, but I forgot. I guess I´ll go another week using my phone.

I have lots of photos that I want to send, but I´m once again in the cyber that I think has a lot of viruses in it, so I don´t want to connect my camera.

This week was good. We have a lot of people in our teaching pool, but absolutely none of them came to church last Sunday. We´ve got to get that moving. I want to baptize someone before going back to California.

My district is full of really high quality missionaries. It´s actually kinda intimidating. I get in these mindsets where I try to compare myself and that´s never a good thing to do. That´s one of the challenges of this transfer, learning not to compare myself against very good, high caliber missionaries.

I told President Obeso last week in my letter that I feel like I don´t accomplish all the things I´m supposed to, even though I feel like I´m trying my best. It´s frustrating, because Nephi says we can always do it, but it stresses me out, so what I did was I wrote a list of all the things I could think of that I do that I would consider chueco (it means crooked or skewed, missionaries use it to mean disobedient). It actually helped a lot to see it all listed out. It made me feel more in control. I put stars next to some of them to polish up this week, and I hope to dominate everything in the list before my last week. I´ve only been half successful as I´ve worked on my starred items, but I guess I need better plans. I want to be exactly obedient.

The other missionaries in the house stole my agenda and made it a truncky agenda. They taped lots of pictures of young couples from the Liahona. They filled it with scriptures about marriage and they numbered the days to make a regressive countdown. I´m still debating if I should take the pictures off or not.

I love you all so much. I´m doing all I can to make these last 5.5 weeks count.

-Elder Connor Christopherson

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 6, 2015
Maia, I´m proud of you for keeping your goal to go to all the devotionals. I think I missed one or two, and there were several that I saw on the interenet as I was doing laundry or finishing an art project.

Mom, you´ll be really blessed for the work your doing for the ward. I was reading in Handbook 2 about fundraisers, wow, there are a lot of rules (which makes sense). It´s nice that the ward found something that works well. The wards here don´t really have the streangth to do things like that, and a lot of money is spent to get people to the temple (it´s about 12 hours from here). I´m so grateful that I could grow up in such a strong ward with many faithful examples and leaders.

We got the transfer information and almost my whole district stays, including me. Looks like I´m going to end the mission in Rahue Alto :D I´m happy about that. I actually asked Presidente Obeso for that, because I felt that I know the area really well and feel like my companion and I can get a lot done together this transfer cycle.

The man we've been teaching has a new plan to quit smoking. It was a cool idea that I think was inspired, because it makes so much sense and I felt so good when my companion and I shared it with him. Basically, he´s going to make a daily schedule that says the exact times in each day that he´s allowed to smoke. If he feels the urge to smoke, he can look at his schedule and think "It´s 4:30 and I just got off of work, and I want to smoke now, but my schedule says I can´t untill 5:30. I can wait an hour more for that." The idea is that he sets his own schedule instead of his circumstances, and he develops self mastery. Little by little, he has to drop the number of cigarettes that he programs into each day. By making a plan every day, he´ll meet his daily goals, and by keeping his daily goals, he´ll reach his vision of never smoking ever again.
That´s one of the most fundamental lessions I´ve learned in the mission, the importance of having a vision backed by goals which are backed by plans. They each depend on each other to be successful. When we set goals and plans, we turn a dream or vision into realitiy. Vision, goal, and plan setting is a method of choosing that which is best over that which is good with anticipation, and then sticking to the decision  It´s not as hard as it sounds. The Lord promises that this will never be so dificult that we can´t do it, just so long as we´re organized about it.(See Mosiah 4:27 which is basically my new favorite scripture). I´m not perfect in this, but I know that with practice, it´ll bring me to be my best self instead of somewhere in the middle. 

Love y´all :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson
Connor has become a firewood expert in Chile.
Connor's companions
March 30, 2015
Today´s one of those days when there are LOTS of things to say.

I just got awesome news! A friend from BYU who was not a member of the church got baptized and is going to serve a mission! Wow, stuff changes when one´s gone for 2 years.

Mom, thanks for registering for my classes. The schedule looks great. Dad, that was a nice photo of Justin Too. I didn´t really recognize the second place guy.

I can´t send you photos today, because the ciber where we normally go doesn´t have internet, so we´re in a sketchy ciber. I think I´ll get a cold with all the viruses in here.

Elder Garcia´s been having a tough time this week (his close cousin recently died in a car crash), but I think the Lord wanted to help my companion out and we found a new solid investigator! We were just talking to a guy in the street and asked where he lived. He said, "well, I just show you" and he led us to his house. He´s nice, is separated from his wife, and has 2 kids that live with him part time. We had a second appointment and he actually read the pamphlet :D :D :D He prayed at the end of our second lesson, never having prayed before in his life! He´s so receptive and he´s doesn´t appear to have anything to stop him from getting baptized. No substance addictions. He´s not co-living with anyone, and he´s got the weekends off work. It´s perfect!

Oscar got baptized :D He´s not my investigator, but I helped in teaching him, I did his interview, he asked me to baptize him, and I also did the confirmation. I feel awkward seeing my name so many times on his baptism record. He´s really sharp. He shows up to like EVERY meeting or activity, and he´s read the entire quad. The members are accepting him well into the ward.

So, the mission is focusing a lot of energy on #GraciasaqueÉlvive (in English #BecauseHelives). We have been showing the video to lots of people, members and nonmembers, we had a special 2 zone activity in the plaza of Osorno, where we sang in a choir, contacted people, had 3 enourmous signs that said #GraciasaqueÉlvive, and some laptops to show the video to people. Social media is the new way to do missionary work (even if the missionaries here don´t get to use it) because the MEMBERS make it all work :D We already had a great success story. One recently reactivated member shared the video on facebook, and found out that her cousin is a member of the church! Isn´t that cool?!? Everyone who reads this email should visit the website  But really, do it :D And then share it with EVERYONE :D If the resurrection of Christ has any meaning to you, you´ll know the great urgency in sharing it. Because He lives, I can be truly and eternally happy and everyone else can be too as they choose to live the fulness of His Gospel. This is a big deal!

I love you ALL :D
-Elder Connor Christopherson

PS: Are you pumped for General Conference? I am :D

PPS: Ha ha, just kidding, Dad. Congrats on getting 2nd in yet another double century :D

Connor - seated front left side
March 23, 2015
A friend asked what the best moment in the mission has been. This is how I responded: The very best moments are the ones where everything works out :) God´s plan is like an enourmous juggling act where He makes it look like everything´s going to fall just to see if we´ll stay faithful. It´s so relieving when stuff works, we feel the spirit, and we are forever streangthened. There are so many moments like that in the mission :) Like talking to that person on the street who I´d never think would be receptive and it starts this whole conversation where they share about their life and want to learn more about Christ.
It´s been a very good week. I have a real companion now! I´m with Elder Garcia from Bucaramanga, Colombia. We´ve gotten along very well :D He´s a little quieter, but he´s got a solid testimony and he´s hard working. He didn´t speak much English before the mission, but he´s very dilligent in practicing with me. He says all his companionship prayers and district prayers in English. We´ve been finding lots of new/future investigators. Several of them still aren´t new investigators till we´ve actually had a lession with them, but we´ve got appointments and we´re excited!

We found a fun less active family this week. The mom actually reminded me of my own mom, because they´re both constantly doing stuff and working hard. They actually like to read books (very uncommon in Chile) which makes them notably more intelligent in their conversations.They´re a really nice family, but they feel they don´t really need to go to church to be with God. We are focusing in helping them discover that they have unanswered questions that are resolved in the Book of Mormon. I´m excited to see how it goes.
Love y´all! Oh! Almost forgot. I´m baptizing Oscar this Saturday :D (not my investigator, but I´m still stoked :)
-Elder Connor Christopherson